NRHA's Rural Health Voices blog offers informed commentary on the latest news in rural health care from NRHA staff and editorials from selected contributors.

‘Not a drill’: COVID vaccination efforts boosted by pharmacists in training

The pandemic has put intense pressure on communities to find public health solutions, combining people and resources for emergency response and vaccine distribution and education efforts. In North Carolina, students and faculty from UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy-Asheville campus joined forces with Buncombe County Health and Human Services (HHS) to train a volunteer workforce for the COVID-19 vaccination effort.

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Experiencing COVID-19 as a doctor and patient

As a rural doctor on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, Karl Viddal, MD, recognizes the overwhelming stress health care workers are under. He also understands what it’s like to be a patient with COVID-19 fighting for his life. Viddal survived his own battle with COVID-19 last spring. The 46-year-old spent 55 days in the hospital, including 28 days in a medically induced coma, and 34 days on a ventilator.

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‘It’s on us’: Health care’s unique position in the response to human trafficking

Before joining the board of Transitions of Pennsylvania, a local women’s resource center, Kendra Aucker says human trafficking wasn’t exactly on her radar.

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Building a rural integrated network for specialty care

Recruiting specialists is difficult for any hospital, and it’s even more challenging for small, independent hospitals in rural areas. Most critical access hospitals (CAHs) don’t have enough volume for full-time specialists in cardiology, pulmonology, orthopedics, urology, ear, nose and throat, and other specialties.

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Rural leaders build networks to source PPE for hospitals

A volunteer pilot slam-locks the passenger door of his aircraft and gets in. Before COVID-19, that passenger berth carried patients in need of a ride from their rural location to vital health care appointments. Regional networks such as Angel Flight coordinated these flights with a roster of pilots willing to donate their time, aircraft, and fuel to get rural patients where they needed to go. But when the pandemic hit, these networks were forced to suspend patient flights to limit the spread...

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Mitigating the impact of COVID on rural families at risk for violence

The irony of COVID-19’s physical distancing is that many family units now have an increased closeness — for some, perhaps to a degree not previously experienced.

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The benefits of being a rural nurse practitioner

To keep up with the demands of practice, nurse practitioners (NP) have to wear many hats. Fortunately, those serving rural areas are afforded more autonomy in their work than urban NPs, a recent study shows.

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Mental health in a pandemic

Mountain Plains Mental Health Technology Transfer Center co-project directors Thomasine Heitkamp and Dennis Mohatt discuss the coronavirus outbreak’s effects on mental health, telehealth services, and the disparities already present in rural communities.

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CDC on rural COVID-19 response

Diane Hall is a senior policy analyst with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and lead for the CDC’s Minority Health and Rural Health Team on COVID-19 response. 

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COVID-19 relief: No margin for error

As agencies and institutions sounded alarms indicating the spread of the novel coronavirus, NRHA advocates went into high gear. Foremost among NRHA’s concerns for rural health care were hospital cash flow and support for provider agility in the crisis.

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