From Fields to Skylines: The Biggest Healthcare Issue

By Isabelle Shultz

This Happened to Me:
I come from a very small farm town in Illinois. My friends like to joke that I live in the
middle of nowhere. Our closest hospital is 20 miles away, therefore, when something traumatic
happens, a patient typically always has at least a 30-minute ride to the hospital. For instance,
about 12 years ago, my grandmother had a severe heart attack. 911 was called at about 2 am, and if it
had not been for us knowing one of the EMTs on the staff, my grandmother would not be alive
today. It took roughly 10 minutes for the ambulance to get to my grandmother’s house after the
initial call. Finally, after getting her into the ambulance and on the way to the hospital, we found
out that the hospital within our region did not have the staff and capabilities to care for the
severity of the heart attack. After the 30-mile ride in the ambulance, she was then airlifted by
helicopter to a hospital 60 miles away that could care for her. This hospital had services that the
one closest to me did not. It was staffed with the proper doctors, nurses, supplies, and machines
that could help with the severity of the situation. It was even significantly more updated than the
one closest to me. Therefore, they were able to care for her in the ways she needed. She ended up
having to have triple bypass surgery on her heart and then having a defibrillator for months
after. During the surgery, her heart stopped and they shocked it back.

In reality, if it had not been for the EMT’s and their fast help, my grandmother would not be alive due to the drastic distance
to a hospital. Many come from areas with hospitals 5 miles from their homes.
Most do not realize that in rural parts of the country, healthcare is not easily accessible, and that
is something that needs to be addressed. My family is forever grateful for the local workers that
helped save my grandmother’s life while traveling the significant distance to not just one
hospital but two hospitals.

My Story is Not Unique, Here’s the Problem:
My story is a common tale in small towns. The problem we face is the lack of proper
healthcare in rural areas throughout the country. The reason why our country faces this problem
is that we live in a rural area that is often overlooked by the government. The government
typically focuses on other problems that are being faced in highly populated and highly funded
areas. With that being said, the lower population and lower income areas lack the help and
support needed to sustain a healthy and safe civilization. It is believed that if you live in a rural
area, you will not have access to the proper healthcare in times of need. So many different parts
of the country are rural and suffer from this problem. There are even parts of the country that do
not have hospitals or medical help within a 60 miles radius. Most have at least an hour of travel
one way to receive help in times of need.

Here is a Non-Profit Organization Working to Help:
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) is a current non-profit
organization that is working to help solve this problem (1). They are a federal agency focused on
improving the safety and quality of the nation’s healthcare system (1). They invest in research to
understand how to make healthcare safer, higher quality, more accessible, equitable, and
affordable (1). They also develop resources, tools, and data to help healthcare professionals, policymakers, and consumers make informed health decisions (1). By gathering information
about the topic, they are able to inform the world about the serious problem that is being faced in
rural American communities.

Here’s What You as a Reader Can Do to Help, Right Now!:
As a reader, you can begin to educate yourself on the relevance of this problem by
reading about the situation at the Rural Health Information Hub. By reading on their website, you
can then learn in-depth details about this problem. If you go to the Rural Health
Information Hub, you will be able to find specific non-profits that work on this issue, such as
the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. This problem is often overlooked and not seen by
people it does not affect, but in reality, many people’s lives are being taken because of the lack of
knowledge of the situation. If the people of this country start to educate themselves and fill their
minds with information about the problem rural areas face, the country will no longer overlook
the problem and possible solutions will start to come. With that, fewer lives in rural areas will be
lost. A solution may be closer than we all believe, we just have to take action and inform


(1) Rural Health Information Hub. Rural Health Disparities Overview. (n.d.). Retrieved
September 16, 2022, from https://www.ruralhealthinfo.org/topics/rural-health-disparities

Categories: Home, Nursing, op ed

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