A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about “Remaking Rural Health,” which debuts on KET tonight. The lead sentence in KET’s magazine Visions startled me: “Kentuckians are dying younger than people in nearly every state in the country due to alarmingly high rates of cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity, and diabetes.”
If that doesn’t frighten you, it should.
But tonight’s program does point out that our health disparities can and are being addressed by a number of health professionals all over the Commonwealth. While the health problems in rural Kentucky are well reported, much less visible are the community and health care leaders who work to improve conditions.
An excellent example is in Glasgow. Dr. Phillip Bale began one of the only “prevention clinics” in the state, spending almost 30 minutes with each patient to carefully identify and quantify risk for conditions like heart attacks and strokes. Bale says we’ve got to take an active role in improving our health and quit doing what we’ve been doing for the past 50 years: “We spend essentially twice as much for health care per person than any other industrialized country in the world and yet our outcomes are no better.”
In Glasgow, Bale founded the Family Medicine Residency Program with partners at the University of Louisville. It was established to attract physicians to practice in rural communities. Dr. Brent Wright says, “I’m proud I’m from Kentucky. And I don’t want the perception of people to be that we’re an unfortunate state, because we’re not. We just have to figure out how we harness what we do well and use those attitudes and beliefs to accomplish the challenges in front of us.”
In addition, the University of Kentucky Rural Cancer Prevention project fights four major cancers by increasing use of current testing and screening procedures. The project spreads information and awareness into the community using new media such as Facebook and text messaging and reaching out to people in natural gathering places, like Walmart stores.
Remaking Rural Health: A KET Special Report explores how advocates across the state are making innovative changes locally to deliver the health care rural Kentuckians need. The program airs Tuesday, Feb. 7, at 9/8 pm CT on KET and Monday, Feb. 13, at 10/9 pm CT on KET2.