A recent survey of family caregivers revealed some troubling information about the divide between rural and urban communities regarding COVID-19 vaccines.
According to the poll, nearly one in three (31%) family caregivers who live in rural communities say they won’t take the older adult under their care to get the COVID-19 vaccine—nearly double the refusal rate of urban and suburban caregivers (16%). About the same number (36%) of rural caregivers say they won’t get vaccinated themselves.
Safety concerns primarily drive caregivers’ unwillingness to get the vaccine for their loved ones and themselves, according to survey respondents. Among the rural family caregivers surveyed, an overwhelming 81% have doubts that the COVID-19 vaccine is safe and more than a quarter (28%) are “not at all confident” in the vaccine’s safety. In comparison, 9% of their urban and suburban peers are not at all confident. Taken together, experts say the findings show how difficult it will be to save lives in communities where access to healthcare is already limited. Continue reading
Given all the concern about the failure of rural hospitals, it may seem counterintuitive that some hospitals in rural America may need to close. In multipart series for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, investigative news reporter Yamil Berard found last year that some rural hospitals in Georgia had serious deficiencies.
Those deficiencies included significantly low occupancy rates, stiff competition from other hospitals, dwindling populations in their service areas, poor management and faulty decision-making, she reported. Continue reading
Neglected tropical diseases, a group of parasitic, bacterial and viral infectious diseases that primarily affect the poorest countries in the world, also can spread in some of the most impoverished communities in the United States.
Vice News reporter Arielle Duhaime-Ross brought attention to this little known fact in “Scientists think Alabama’s sewage problem has caused a tropical parasite. The state has done little about it,” which won the National Association of Science Writers’ 2019 Science in Society Journalism Award. Continue reading
Rose Hoban, a long-time health journalist who founded and now leads North Carolina Health News, has written an AHCJ tip sheet chock full of resources about both rural health and social determinants of health.
The resource guide grows out of her presentation at Health Journalism 2019 in Baltimore last spring in which she provided both an overview of some national trends in rural health, and also dived into some innovations in communities around the country. Continue reading
Last week kicked off the 11-day Iowa State Fair, drawing most of the top Democratic presidential candidates. A regular stop on the early state voting circuit, the Iowa State Fair offers the opportunity for face time with early-state voters – while also eating food on sticks and posing for selfies in front of a giant cow made out of butter.
In between, candidates have been releasing their plans for rural America. Many of these plans include details how they would expand broadband access and telehealth services. Continue reading
How old is too old to practice medicine? That’s a question without a definitive answer, but one of concern to health systems, patients and clinicians.
Normal age-related physical or cognitive issues don’t mean physicians or nurses should stop practicing by a certain age, but according to this new tip sheet from reporter Cheryl Clark, many doctors are seeing patients, and even performing delicate surgical procedures well into their 80s … or even 90s. On the one hand, these doctors may be the only ones available in rural or lower-income areas; they’re helping alleviate the workforce shortage. On the other hand, there’s concern they could they be putting some patients, or themselves, at risk. Continue reading