rural health

Bram Sable-Smith / KBIA/Side Effects Public Media

This story was originally published February 6. It has been updated as of February 9 at 1 pm.

The Atchison-Holt Ambulance District spans two counties and 1,100 square miles in the far northwest corner of Missouri. The EMTs who drive these ambulances cover nearly 10 times more land area than their counterparts in Omaha, the nearest major city. 

For those not familiar with Missouri, the so-called "Bootheel" refers to the wedge of the state that juts down between Tennessee and Arkansas — a area that's been profiled by Side Effect's own Bram Sable-Smith, who covered a struggling rural hospital there in 2017.

Bram Sable-Smith / KBIA/Side Effects Public Media

When the hospital closed in rural Ellington, Missouri, a town of about 1,000, the community lost its only emergency room, too. 

That was 2016. That same year, a local farmer had a heart attack.


Seth Herald / for WOSU

On a fall morning, Gary Jones takes a walk in his wooded property in Licking County, Ohio. Like many people, long walks helps him to clear his head.

“So it’s all kind of a similar thing, it’s just a little exaggerated with, uh, post-traumatic stress,” Jones says.


$5 Per Tooth Extractions Draw Those Without Affordable Dental Care

Oct 3, 2017
Marissanne Lewis-Thompson/KRCU

After 20 years of selling and using meth, 38-year-old Andy Moss turned his life around. He got off drugs and got a good job. Next step: he wanted to fix his teeth, which had disintegrated, leaving nerves exposed.

Without Price Breaks, Rural Hospitals Struggle To Stock Lifesaving Drugs

Sep 18, 2017
Sarah Jane Tribble / Kaiser Health News

Hospital pharmacist Mandy Langston remembers when Lulabelle Berry arrived at Stone County Medical Center’s emergency department last year.

Berry couldn’t talk. Her face was drooping on one side. Her eyes couldn’t focus.

“She was basically unresponsive,” Langston recalls.

In Appalachia, Two Hospital Giants Seek State-Sanctioned Monopoly

Jul 24, 2017
Phil Galewitz / Kaiser Health News

Looking out a fourth-floor window of his hospital system’s headquarters, Alan Levine can see the Appalachian Mountains that have defined this hardscrabble region for generations.

Bram Sable-Smith / Side Effects Public Media

$1.25 million.

That’s the size of the bill that could have shuttered the only public hospital in rural Pemiscot County, Missouri in August 2013.

Four years ago, Cait Hogan woke up in her bed on a Sunday morning after a night of drinking in the small college town of Athens, Ohio. Her entire body hurt. Her arms and legs were covered in blood. She realized she’d been raped.

Paul Sableman / https://www.flickr.com/photos/pasa/

Three weeks after Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City, Missouri said it will pull out of the Affordable Care Act exchange in 2018, leaving 67,000 to find new coverage, another insurer has stepped up, saying it plans to offer coverage through the exchange in Missouri and Kansas.

The St. Louis-based insurer Centene already has a presence in both states administering Medicaid plans, but the move to sell individual and small group health plans is new.

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