Past experiences enhance the future. Health care providers gaining expertise in creative thinking, traditional medicine, spirituality, and cultural sensitivity is an essential requirement for 21st century health care. We must stay mindful that poverty, isolation, and rural living may create new forms of social exclusion because of lack of communication and rapidly changing technology. Conversely, sensory overload resulting from a faster paced lifestyle and rapid enhancements in technology may cause increased tension and stress. This article reviews successes that may offer the reader ideas on coping with the provision of health care services in such a volatile changing environment, while honoring tradition and cultural competency.
University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico; the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland; the Northern Navajo Medical Center, Shiprock, New Mexico; the Mid-Columbia Medical Center, The Dalles, Oregon; the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Edinburg, Texas; the Alaska Native Medical Center, Anchorage, Alaska; the University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, Mississippi; the Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, Oregon; and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Washington, DC.
Since 1970, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists' Committee on American Indian and Alaska Native Women's Health has partnered with the Indian Health Service and health care facilities serving Native American women to improve quality of care in both rural and urban settings. Needs assessments have included formal surveys, expert panels, consensus conferences, and onsite program reviews. Improved care has been achieved through continuing professional education, recruitment of volunteer obstetrician-gynecologists, advocacy, and close collaboration at the local and national levels. The inclusive and multifaceted approach of this program should provide an effective model for collaborations between specialty societies and health care professionals providing primary care services that can reduce health disparities in underserved populations.
To retrospectively examine the barriers faced and opportunities for improvement during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic response experienced by participants responsible for the delivery of health care services in 3 remote and isolated Subarctic First Nation communities of northern Ontario, Canada.
A qualitative community-based participatory approach.
Semi-directed interviews were conducted with adult key informants (n=13) using purposive sampling of participants representing the 3 main sectors responsible for health care services (i.e., federal health centres, provincial hospitals and Band Councils). Data were manually transcribed and coded using deductive and inductive thematic analysis.
Primary barriers reported were issues with overcrowding in houses, insufficient human resources and inadequate community awareness. Main areas for improvement included increasing human resources (i.e., nurses and trained health care professionals), funding for supplies and general community awareness regarding disease processes and prevention.
Government bodies should consider focusing efforts to provide more support in terms of human resources, monies and education. In addition, various government organizations should collaborate to improve housing conditions and timely access to resources. These recommendations should be addressed in future pandemic plans, so that remote western James Bay First Nation communities of Subarctic Ontario and other similar communities can be better prepared for the next public health emergency.
Drawing upon a comparative, qualitative study of the experiences of rural women accessing maternity care in two Canadian provinces, we demonstrate that availability of services, having economic and informational resources to access the services offered, and the appropriateness of those services in terms of gender, continuity of care, confidentiality, quality of care, and cultural fit are key to an accurate understanding of health care access. We explore the implications of living rurally on each of these dimensions, thereby revealing both gaps in and solutions to rural maternity care access that narrower, proximity-based definitions miss.
BACKGROUND: In 2002 the Norwegian Board of Health made a survey of the accessibility of general practitioners in Troms county in North Norway. MATERIAL AND METHODS: In a telephone interview one secretary in each surgery informed about telephone response time, planned time for telephone consultations, recorded numbers of urgent consultations, and waiting time to obtain a routine consultation. RESULTS: On average, the planned telephone time was two hours per week. Telephone time was in inverse proportion to the number of patients on the doctor's list. Rural doctors spent twice as much time as urban colleagues on the telephone with their patients. Doctors with lists between 500 and 1500 patients had a higher proportion of urgent consultations compared with doctors with shorter or longer lists. INTERPRETATION: Telephone response time below two minutes and waiting times for routine consultations below 20 days appear to be within acceptable norms. When patient lists are above 1500, doctors' capacity to offer telephone contact and emergency services to their patients seems reduced.
Despite the prevalence of disabilities among persons living in rural areas, scarce data exist on their health care needs. While rural residents generally experience barriers to access to primary health care, these problems are further exacerbated for people with disabilities. This article summarizes findings from the published literature on access to primary health care among people with disabilities living in rural locations. A comprehensive computerized literature search turned up 86 articles meeting the study criteria, focused on the following rural populations affected by disabilities: children and adolescents, working-age adults, the elderly the mentally ill, and people with AIDS. For each of these populations, substantial problems in accessing appropriate health care have been documented. The literature consistently emphasizes the failure of local health care systems in nonmetropolitan areas to adequately address the complex medical and related needs of individuals with disabilities. In the absence of specialized expertise, facilities, and primary care providers trained specifically to care for disabled persons, local programs rely heavily on the use of indigenous paraprofessionals and alternative models of care. Further research is needed to identify and test the efficacy of innovative service delivery strategies to improve health care access for this population.
The study aims to describe the incidence and geographical distribution of accidental out-of-hospital births (accidental births) in Finland in relation to the changes in the hospital network, and to compare the perinatal outcomes of accidental births and all hospital births.
Data for the incidence and distribution analyses of accidental births were obtained from the official statistics between 1962 and 1973 and from the national Medical Birth Registry (MBR) in 1992-1993. The infant outcomes were analyzed for the MBR data in 1991-1995.
Between 1963 and 1975 the central hospital network expanded and by 1975 they covered 72% of births. The number of small maternity units has decreased since 1963. The incidence of accidental births decreased between 1963 and 1973, from 1.3 to 0.4 per 1000 births, and rose by the 1990s to 1/1000. In the 1990s the parity adjusted risk of an accidental birth was higher for residents of northern than of southern Finland, OR 2.51 (CI 1.75-3.60), and for residents of rural compared to urban municipalities, OR 3.26 (CI 2.48-4.27). The birthweight adjusted risk for a perinatal death was higher in accidental births than in hospital births, OR 3.11 (CI 1.42-6.84).
A temporal correlation between closing of small hospitals and an increase in accidental birth rates was detected. Due to the poor infant outcomes of accidental births, centralization policies should include measures to their prevention.
To assess the quality of care of acute myocardial infarction (AMI) in a rural health region.
Clinical audit employing multiple explicit criteria of care elements for emergency department and in-hospital AMI management. The audit was conducted using retrospective chart review.
Twelve acute care health centres and hospitals in the East Central Health Region, a rural health region in Alberta, where medical and surgical services are provided almost entirely by family physicians.
Hospital inpatients with a confirmed discharge diagnosis of AMI (ICD-9-CM codes 410.xx) during the period April 1, 2001, to March 31, 2002, were included (177 confirmed cases).
Quality of AMI care was assessed using guidelines from the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association and the Canadian Cardiovascular Outcomes Research Team and Canadian Cardiovascular Society. Quality of care indicators at three stages of patient care were assessed: at initial recognition and AMI management in the emergency department, during in-hospital AMI management, and at preparation for discharge from hospital.
In the emergency department, the quality of care was high for most procedural and therapeutic audit elements, with the exception of rapid electrocardiography, urinalysis, and provision of nitroglycerin and morphine. Average door-to-needle time for thrombolysis was 102.5 minutes. The quality of in-hospital care was high for most elements, but low for nitroglycerin and angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, daily electrocardiography, and counseling regarding smoking cessation and diet. Few patients received counseling for lifestyle changes at hospital discharge. Male and younger patients were treated more aggressively than female and older patients. Sites that used care protocols achieved better results in initial AMI management than sites that did not. Stress testing was not readily available in the rural region studied.
Quality of care for patients with AMI in this rural health region was high for most guideline elements. Standing orders, protocols, and checklists could improve care. Training and resource issues will need to be addressed to improve access to stress testing for rural patients. Clinical audit should be at the core of a system for local monitoring of quality of care.
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