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Nursing Care in Rural CommunitiesLiving in a rural community can present challenges for residents in receiving adequate health care. Many believe that rural communities present less health risks than urban communities. In actuality, they each have their own unique health problems and risks. In rural areas, the elderly population is at risk for not obtaining sufficient healthcare for numerous reasons such as knowledge deficit, lack of transportation, and financial woes. The healthcare community also faces challenges in providing healthcare in rural areas. The community health nurse plays an extremely important role in rural America. They will help ensure that the community has access to appropriate medical care and assist with referrals for financial assistance.
Rural Community Health versus Urban City Health
There have many debates over the years about who has the better quality of life, including less health problems, those who live in rural communities or those that live in the urban city communities. Any person that is asked, will most likely have their own opinion. However, in actuality, both have their own unique set of health problems. Kids that grow up in rural areas, particularly farming areas, have a lower incidence of asthma and breathing difficulties than kids raised in urban areas. But, on the other hand, children in rural areas, on average, consume more fat and sugar than those in urban areas. Therefore, it is no surprise that the childhood obesity rate is the highest in rural areas CITATION Bec11 \l 1033 (Beck, 2011). Urban communities a higher rate of sexually transmitted diseases and more violent crimes than that in rural communities. In urban areas, there tends to be a larger impoverished population due to immigrants migrating to urban areas.
When a large portion of the population is at or below poverty level, it results in poorer living conditions and difficulty obtaining adequate food, water, sewage, and health care. Because of that, there is an increased rate of preventable diseases related to lifestyles CITATION Gal12 \l 1033 (Galea, Ompad, & Vlahov, 2012). Both urban and rural communities have various drug and alcohol problems. The types of drugs and population using are unique to the area. Urban areas tend to have more sources available to help those seeking it. There are more treatment centers and also clean needle exchange programs.
The Elderly Population in Rural America
Many elderly that live in rural communities, have lived there the majority of their lives. Many will be living alone if their spouse has previously passed away. A specific need that many may have is lack of transportation. In most rural areas, there is not public transportation available. This results in many elderly missing medical appointments, check-ups, and possibly not even making an appointment when ill. Lack of receiving appropriate medication can also be a result of being without transportation. However, there are many other contributing factors for those not taking the appropriate medications. Many elderly living in rural areas, come from families that have farmed all their lives. Farming is an industry that has its ups and downs financially, and although provided for the family at the time, many did not have money available in retirement funds. This has resulted in a monetary deficit in the aging population. Another reason the elderly population in rural areas may not receive the appropriate prescriptions, is knowledge deficit. Many, especially in rural areas, have grown up treating themselves and their families with home remedies.
This was a cost-saving solution, and also resolved the issue of limited available medical care. There are specific medical problems that are more prevalent in rural populations. These include heart disease, skin cancers, and Alzheimer’s or a form of dementia. Chronic diseases also more predominant in the aging population of rural America, these include arthritis and hypertension CITATION Rog02 \l 1033 (Rogers, 2002). Challenges for Healthcare in Rural America. There are several challenges that are widespread when providing healthcare in Rural America. In general, there are less healthcare providers and hospitals available in rural areas. If there is a hospital close, it will most likely lack many pertinent departments such as a cardiac cath lab or a labor and delivery unit. Patients will be required to relocate to a larger town, further away. This may not be possible to many rural Americans due to lack of financial ability, lack of transportation, or the lack of education. They may not have been educated on the importance of the procedure. There are also many insurance companies that do not contract with rural physicians.
This would deter many people from obtaining adequate medical care due to the out of pocket cost CITATION Mos08 \l 1033 (Moscovice & Rosenblatt, 2008). The Role of the Community Health Nurse in Rural Settings. The community health nurse will take on many roles in rural settings. Educating about the importance of immunizations is imperative. But, also, ensuring that all community members that desire the immunizations have the ability to come to the clinic to receive them. If not, the nurse may need to develop another plan in order to meet the community’s needs. The community health nurse needs to assist the elderly with obtaining transportation for medical visits. If they are only able to establish transportation certain days of the week, if possible make appointments for that day for them. Education is a large part of any nurse’s job description. However, as a rural community health nurse, it is essential that the community is educated on disease processes and the importance of taking prescriptions as prescribed by the physician.
Many in rural communities, will generally have their own home remedies that they have used and may not understand why a specific medication is necessary. Because of financial concerns of many in rural areas, the community health nurse will need to educate patients on medical financial assistance programs and which local providers and hospitals are contracted with their insurance companies. Urban areas and rural communities in America, each come with their own unique health problems that are specific to that area. As a rural community health nurse, it is imperative to understand what specific deficits the general rural population has related to healthcare. The community health nurse has the ability to ensure that the entire rural community has access to healthcare, adequate education related to their medical problems, and can help refer patients to assistance for transportation and financial assistance.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Beck, M. (2011). City vs. Country: Who is Healthier. Wall Street Journal. Galea, S., Ompad, D., & Vlahov, D. (2012, September). Urban Health Issues. Retrieved from Rutgers University:
http://www.healthynj.org/ Moscovice, I., & Rosenblatt, R. (2008). Quality-of-Care Challenges for Rural Health. The Journal of Rural Health, 168-176. Rogers, C. (2002). The Older Population in 21st Century Rural America. Rural America, 2-10.