Features

In-depth stories examining key rural health issues.

Out of the Shadows: Reducing the Rural Impact of Epilepsy

Brain and encephalography in epilepsy patient during seizure attack


A common health condition, epilepsy impacts rural populations in many ways, including the ability to drive. Medical and public health experts join an advocacy organization to review the condition’s impact and outline rural management approaches — including seizure first aid.

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October 20, 2021

Doulas Provide Support for Maternal and Infant Health in Rural Communities

pregnant woman and doula


Three programs across rural America demonstrate how doulas improve birth outcomes by providing prenatal, labor, and postpartum support. A New Mexico program reaches American Indian, Hispanic, and other populations who lack nearby labor/delivery units; a Minnesota program works with moms experiencing incarceration; and a North Dakota program is training postpartum doulas who will care for families impacted by opioid use disorder and other substance use.

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October 6, 2021

Understanding the Rural Swing Bed: More than Just a Reimbursement Policy

patient getting blood pressure checked


“Swing bed” is that oft-heard phrase describing not a physical hospital bed, but post-acute care for the rural patient who is well enough to leave the acute care hospital but not well enough to be safe at home. In this 2-part story, experts and hospital administrators review the swing bed program’s historical implementation and provide stories and examples of the value this over 40-year-old healthcare delivery and reimbursement model brings to patients, to the hospitals providing their care, and ultimately to rural communities.

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August 11, 2021

Federal Agencies’ Investment in Rural Cancer Control Fosters Partnerships between Researchers and Rural Communities

hand holding a ribbon against a sunset


Researchers and rural communities are working together to address rural cancer prevention and control, with federal funding supporting a wide range of projects. From targeting health behaviors, to making cancer screening and vaccination more accessible, to increasing rural participation in clinical trials, efforts to reduce rural cancer burden are underway across the country.

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July 28, 2021

Pulmonary Rehabilitation: Benefiting Rural Individuals, Benefiting Rural Population Health

McKenzie Health System pulmonary rehabilitation staff.


On the list of leading causes of death, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, impacts millions of rural Americans and their quality of life. Though limited treatments are available for COPD, research indicates that pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) provides major benefits, yet is currently under-prescribed and facing challenges from COVID-19 and from reimbursement policies. Researchers discuss the potential that tele-PR might bring to rural areas, and rural healthcare leaders highlight the benefits of their PR programs for service areas.

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June 30, 2021

Still Stealing Rural America’s Breath: An Update on Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

image of trees shaped as lungs with text COPD: Still Stealing Rural America's Breath


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, is a condition that continues to steal rural America’s breath. Researchers, philanthropists, and healthcare professionals talk about new rural research efforts and the impact of COVID-19 on COPD. Also discussed is the importance of pulmonary rehabilitation, an impactful treatment long known to improve quality of life and now backed by new research proving it decreases death rates in select patients.

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June 16, 2021

Broadband in Rural America: Faster Speeds for Home and Healthcare

wireless router


Fast, reliable broadband is essential for people to access telehealth and patient portals as well as work and study from home, but rural and tribal areas fall behind urban and suburban areas in terms of broadband deployment and speed. Organizations in Alabama, Colorado, and Kentucky share how broadband affects their work and their patients’ care.

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April 28, 2021

Looking at the Rural Homelessness Experience: Definitions, Data, and Solutions


Though often considered an urban problem, homelessness also affects rural individuals and families, impacting their health and well-being. A Vermont nonprofit leader shares her organization’s work using the evidence-based solution Housing First and reminds us that for many, homelessness is just “one catastrophic event away.”

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April 7, 2021