Rural Hospitals

On this edition of our show, we speak with Dr. Rachel Pearson about her new book, "No Apparent Distress: A Doctor's Coming-of-Age on the Front Lines of American Medicine." As was noted of this reflective and well-written book by Kirkus Reviews: "[In this book] a sensitive doctor describes her beginnings navigating the unpredictable, woolly world of modern American health care. Pearson’s inspired collective of illuminating clinical episodes immediately sparks to life with anecdotes from her early work in a female-owned and -operated abortion clinic in her 20s.

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"The disappearing maternal care problem is common across rural America. Only about 6 percent of the nation's OB/GYNs work in rural areas, according to the latest survey numbers from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Yet 15 percent of the country's population, or 46 million people, live in rural America.

On this edition of ST, we are joined by Craig Jones, who is President of the Oklahoma Hospital Association. Given the recent cuts in both Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement, large cuts in federal reimbursement costs for uninsured patients, as well as ongoing transformations in standards of care, medical technology, and qualitative outcomes, times are tough these days for hospitals, especially rural hospitals. Nationwide, 673 rural hospitals are considered "on the edge" -- and here in Oklahoma, it's estimated that more than three dozen rural hospitals are facing a troubled future.