Overburdened rural doctors in Texas provide lifeline for isolated

From the Dallas Morning News:

A shortage of doctors willing to work in rural areas is just one of many challenges facing health care providers, says Becky Conditt, executive director of the Texas Rural Health Association. “You would think it is just health care on a smaller level, but it’s really not. Generally speaking, the people in rural areas tend to be sicker, poorer and older, which will obviously impact their health,” she says.

“Rural areas report a higher prevalence of chronic diseases, including heart disease and cancer,” according to a federally funded report by Texas A&M’s Southwest Rural Health Research Center. That may be attributable in part to the poorer, older and less educated background of the average rural resident.

Country dwellers have higher rates of hypertension, suicide among men, DUI arrests, and cigarette use, and two-thirds of fatal vehicle accidents occur on rural roads, according to statistics compiled by the National Rural Health Association, a nonprofit advocacy group for rural health providers.

Senate Committee Approves Leahy Bill to Extend Federal Death Payments to Nonprofit EMS Personnel

From JEMS:

The Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday approved legislation authored by U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) to extend the federal Public Safety Officers Benefits (PSOB) program to paramedics and emergency medical technicians who work or volunteer for nonprofit ambulance services, for coverage when they are killed or disabled in the line of duty.

Leahy chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, which oversees the PSOB program, and he has successfully steered several PSOB improvements into law in recent years. The Dale Long Emergency Medical Service Providers Protection Act is named in honor of the Bennington, Vermont, emergency medical technician who was tragically killed in an ambulance accident in June. The measure would qualify an estimated 1200 Vermont EMS personnel for the PSOB program, which is run by the U.S. Department of Justice. Leahy said, “We have been working to fix this gap in coverage for some time, and the loss of Dale Long reminded everyone that first responders of many uniforms literally put their lives at risk every day. These brave emergency professionals never let their communities down when a call comes in, and no one asks the lifesavers at an emergency scene whether they work for the federal government, a state government, a local government or a nonprofit agency. This provision will erase that unnecessary distinction from the PSOB program.”