Features

Stories that examine key rural issues.

Feasting on Rural America: The Spread of Tick-Borne Diseases

Blacklegged tick

Photo credit: James Gathany,
CDC Public Health Image Library


Lyme and other tick-borne illnesses have become the most prolific zoonotic diseases in our nation. Because of their proximity to tick environments, rural areas are more susceptible. In this article, we hear from a Lyme disease patient, a scientist, psychiatrist, nonprofit leader, and a medical doctor about the spread and what’s being done about it.

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May 17, 2017

Rural Health Literacy: Who’s Delivering Health Information?

health literacy image of provider and patient


From over-the-counter medication use, to decisions about personal or family disease treatments, health literacy impacts the most everyday of health decisions. But, distance and internet connectivity challenges make it difficult for rural residents to get health information. To navigate health information gaps, school nurses, newspapers, public libraries, churches, public health departments, and hub-and-spoke academic institutions are working in creative ways.

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May 3, 2017

Rural Health Literacy: Understanding Skills and Demands is Key to Improvement

displays definition of health literacy


Every rural provider has a horror story attached to low health literacy. Health literacy, or getting, understanding, and using health information, involves two sides. Researchers and experts explain that by understanding both the skills and demands side of health literacy, providers and organizations can help their patients move to improved health.

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April 19, 2017

The Sky’s the Limit: Potential of Drone Usage in Rural Healthcare

A drone delivers prescription medications in Wise County, VA.

© 2015 tim cox PhotoGraphics, Inc.


In July 17, 2015, a drone delivered medicine to the RAM – Wise Health Expedition, an outreach event in Wise County, VA. This historic flight may lead to other applications of drones in rural health, such as search and rescue, mosquito spraying, and more deliveries of needed supplies.

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April 5, 2017

Strategies for Superbugs: Antibiotic Stewardship for Rural Hospitals

Clostridium difficile bacterium


Resistant bacteria, or “superbugs,” are a cause of major medical illness and death. Government and accreditation agencies, as well as infectious disease experts, believe hospital antibiotic stewardship programs are the answer to blunting the impact and development of these germs. Despite limited resources, rural and Critical Access Hospitals are activating their stewardship programs.

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March 22, 2017

New CDC Series Looks at Rural Health Topics

CDC MMWR Rural Health Series webpage


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will focus on rural health issues in a special series of its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) that will run throughout 2017. Learn about the impetus for the series, topics that will be featured, and upcoming webinars to share findings from the series.

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February 22, 2017

Cybersecurity: How a Rural Alaska Hospital is Safeguarding Its Patients’ Information

A Chief Nursing Officer and Charge Nurse use a SPH computer.


Due to barriers like cost and staffing, many rural healthcare facilities’ information systems are susceptible to malware attacks such as ransomware. South Peninsula Hospital, a Critical Access Hospital in Homer, Alaska, uses an IT staff of six to monitor threats and train coworkers on how to safeguard their hospital’s information.

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January 11, 2017

Animals Help People Heal in Rural Areas

Patrick Hamlow and Umi


Rural programs across the country rely on service or therapy animals to help people with mobility, motor skills, and mood. Come meet the service dogs of Hawaii, the therapeutic riding horses of Wyoming, and the therapy pig and tortoise who call a skilled nursing facility home in Florida.

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December 14, 2016

Freestanding Emergency Departments: An Alternative Model for Rural Communities

OSF Center for Health - Streator campus


First conceptualized in the 1970s, but not widely adopted in rural communities, freestanding emergency departments (FSEDs) have been getting another look as a sustainable rural option. This article discusses hospital-based versus independent FSEDs, the model’s financial viability, and highlights two FSEDs meeting their communities’ healthcare needs in Arizona and Illinois.

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November 30, 2016