Tag Archives: rural health

The Daily Yonder offers well-reported insights into rural health

Joanne Kenen

About Joanne Kenen

Joanne Kenen, (@JoanneKenen) the health editor at Politico, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health reform and curates related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on health reform resources and tip sheets at joanne@healthjournalism.org. Follow her on Facebook.

Photo: Courtesy of Trahant ReportsMark Trahant of Trahant Reports is one of several contributors to the Daily Yonder.

For those of you who report on rural health care – or just want to learn more about rural health care beyond the opioid crisis – meet the Daily Yonder.

It is a mix of reporting, political analysis, op-eds and commentary on rural America. It is not specifically a health care publication, but it offers a generous amount of health news and relevant food coverage (like this interesting piece on food stamps and the economics of rural groceries). Continue reading

Innovative project enables Georgia journalism students to shine a light on rural health issues

Susan Heavey

About Susan Heavey

Susan Heavey, (@susanheavey) a Washington, D.C.-based journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on social determinants of health and curates related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on resources and tip sheets at determinants@healthjournalism.org.

Photo: Patricia Thomas, University of GeorgiaJournalism students from the University of Georgia share highlights of their days reporting on rural health issues.

If you think reporting in remote areas of the country is hard – think access, time and travel – try doing it with nearly a dozen people, half a dozen cars and a tight deadline.

That’s what Patricia Thomas did earlier this year, leading nine students and one editor into southwestern Georgia, a rural and remote part of the state where geography can significantly affect residents’ health and challenge providers and local officials. Continue reading

New tip sheet gives guidance for reporting on health care in rural areas

Deborah Crowe

About Deborah Crowe

Deborah Crowe (@dcrowe60) is an independent journalist, longtime AHCJ member and copy editor for healthjournalism.org. She can be reached at debcrowe2@yahoo.com.

Image by Let Ideas Compete via Flickr

Journalists from around the country converged on Fort Worth, Texas, this summer to enhance their reporting skills at AHCJ’s eighth Rural Health Journalism Workshop.

Among them was Susan Heavey, AHCJ’s topic leader on health disparities and the social determinants of health care. In a new tip sheet, Susan notes that rural communities face special challenges in attracting and retaining providers, and in keeping hospitals and other critical care facilities open. One surprising trend: Many military veterans – some suffering from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder – often settle in rural communities after their service, putting stress on already limited mental health care resources.

For her tip sheet, Susan combed the best from the one-day workshop’s panels by health care and policy experts who focus on the medical challenges of rural areas. She also highlights some subsequent stories that have been written by attendees.

Covering infant mortality’s grip in South Carolina

Susan Heavey

About Susan Heavey

Susan Heavey, (@susanheavey) a Washington, D.C.-based journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on social determinants of health and curates related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on resources and tip sheets at determinants@healthjournalism.org.

Photo: sean dreilinger via Flickr

Photo: sean dreilinger via Flickr

Journalists Doug Pardue and Lauren Sausser of The Post and Courier in South Carolina almost saw their story, about tackling the perpetually high infant deaths in their southern state, slip away when officials released updated statistics that appeared to show the problem ebbing.

But a closer look at the data — and its geographical divide — showed that the overall numbers weren’t really what they seemed. What resulted when Pardue, part of the paper’s Pulitzer Prize-winning team this year, and Sausser, also an award-winning reporter, teamed up was a powerful investigative series on the tight hold of South Carolina’s infant mortality rate and a deeper look at where the state was getting it right, and where it wasn’t.

Here’s how they did it.

Dental therapist tells of treating patients in remote Alaska

Mary Otto

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health and the author of "Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America." She can be reached at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Conan Murat, one of Alaska’s first dental health aide therapists, provides a first-person perspective on providing oral health care to his fellow Native Alaskans on the isolated Yukon-Kuskokwim delta in this month’s issue of Health Affairs.

One of the perks of belonging to the Association of Health Care Journalists is free access to online versions of a number of useful journals. Health Affairs is one of those and the November issue is dedicated to the theme of “Redesigning the Health Care Workforce.”

In one piece, “How to Close the Physician Gap,” the authors suggest that registered nurses and pharmacists could help address the disparity between the demand for primary care services and the number of physicians available to provide the care. Another looks at meeting growing health care needs through the wider use of nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

But Murat’s piece weighs in on another health care workforce issue that touches the lives of millions of Americans: the shortage of dental providers. Continue reading

Behind Oklahoma’s nation-leading access-to-care problems

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

In February, the New England Journal of Medicine ranked Oklahoma as the worst when it came to access to medical care. With help from a California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowship, Tulsa World reporter Shannon Muchmore sifted through reams of data to emerge with a three-part series helping readers better understand the state’s unique health care delivery challenges.

Fans of data analysis and numbers will want to dive straight into the first installment. According to Muchmore, 66 of Oklahoma’s 77 counties contain “Health Professional Shortage Areas, which means “they don’t meet the national standard of one physician for every 3,500 people.” And those doctor-patient ratios aren’t improving.

The state is facing a severe shortage of doctors as the population ages. Adding to that, as many as 180,000 people are poised to receive insurance when provisions of federal health-care reform kick in 2 1/2 years from now.

What’s behind that shortage? Muchmore enumerates the key drivers.

Medical schools are not increasing their class sizes, residency slots are hard to come by, and doctors are choosing to locate in other states.

The last two factors go hand-in-hand, as doctors often practice where they have their residencies. Without a connection, they have little reason to locate in a rural area.

The state is not well-positioned to handle a further deterioration in its health-care system. Oklahoma consistently ranks among the worst states for obesity, diabetes, smoking, heart disease and overall health. It has the least improvement in the country in age-adjusted death rate since 1990.

In the second installment, she examines the link between disparities in access to medical care and disparities in life expectancy and other indicators throughout the state, with a special focus on Oklahoma’s most rural counties.

In the final piece, Muchmore looks at the future of health care provision in Oklahoma and the key role that physician extenders, such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants, are poised to play.

Keep an eye on the AHCJ website for an upcoming “How I did it” article from Muchmore in which she shares how she did the reporting on this project.