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Published January 24, 2014, 09:31 AM

Rosmann: Rural health care improving but healthy behaviors not as much

There is good news about health care improving in rural America, where healthcare has lagged in comparison to metropolitan areas. Several recent news and journal reports indicate progress in health care delivery, particularly in regions where agriculture pre-dominates.

By: Mike Rosmann, INFORUM

There is good news about health care improving in rural America, where healthcare has lagged in comparison to metropolitan areas. Several recent news and journal reports indicate progress in health care delivery, particularly in regions where agriculture pre-dominates.

Recent newscasts and newspaper articles report the Affordable Care Act enrollment figures indicate rural residents are signing up for health care insurance in significant numbers in areas where insurance coverage has been lower than in metropolitan areas.

Furthermore, the USDA announced in December a $50 million fund to improve rural mental health facilities —another positive step toward improving rural health care.

An article in the latest issue of The Journal of Rural Health indicated there were no significant differences in the outcomes of treatments for strokes among patients in 18 rural Veterans Administration hospitals versus 110 urban VA hospitals. The same journal also reported samples of rural and urban Missouri physicians were equally concerned about preventive care, but rural residents were more resistant to undertaking preventive health measures.

The AgriSafe Network is another positive rural health care development. AgriSafe is a national nonprofit organization of rural nurses, doctors, researchers and other professionals who offer specialized health assessments, educational materials, personal protective equipment and follow-up services to those engaged in agriculture.

AgriSafe-trained health care providers are available in 20 states in the United States and in Australia. AgriSafe offers free webinars about agricultural health topics several times each month at: www.agrisafe.org.

Serving on education, hospital and health boards and committees can become opportunities to establish agricultural health services and to encourage local health care providers to attend specialized training in the field of agricultural occupational health.

There are still too few providers of health care services in rural and agricultural regions who are versed in the particular health issues that can occur to farmers, ranchers and agricultural laborers. Lives could be saved if health care providers knew more about what to look for and how to treat problems like exposure to agrichemicals.

Education matters more to health than ever before, a recently-released report from the VCU Center on Society and Health states.

Education about how to manage our own health gives all of us more control over our own destinies. Leaders in agricultural and other rural communities can have a significant impact on the health of community citizens by serving on local committees and boards where policies can be enacted to advance knowledge of healthy behavior lifestyles.


Mike Rosmann is a Harlan, Iowna psychologist and farmer. To contact him, go to: www.agbehavioralhealth.com.

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