Thursday Roundup: Neighbors

The importance of showing up • Rural and urban drug use are different • Recruiting rural docs • Cutting public broadcasting funding would be felt the most in rural communities

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Carol Byers’s husband, Fred, died in June. He had planted 500 acres and Carol had no idea how she would manage to harvest them.

In a wonderful story by Rick Ruggles of the Omaha World-Herald, we learned that the day after Fred passed away, a neighbor, Don Lord, told Carol not to worry. The crops would be taken care of. 

Monday, that happened. Fifty farmers showed up at the Byers place with an assortment of combines and the team harvested the 500 acres of corn and soybeans. 

This is the way things go, Ruggles reports. Near Bradshaw, Nebraska, Daniel Graves died of cancer in August. On Monday, farmers showed up with combines and grain carts and they harvested the 550 acres Graves left behind. 

“I have no words,” said Daniel Graves’ son, Dan. “All I know is that I’m proud to be part of this community. And my dad was, too.”

What goes around comes around. Don Lord recalls that when his father died 13 years ago, it was Fred Byers who joined a team of neighbors to harvest Lord’s fields. When Don Lord came home from the prayer service for his father, he found Fred Byers at work. “They just showed up and did it,” Lord said.

Showing up is a big part of life, and for most of us, it’s hard. Not so for these folks.

Rural Drugs, Urban Drugs — Rural drug abuse tends toward alcohol, prescription opiates and marijuana. Urban drug use is more heavily weighted toward cocaine and heroin. Urban and rural are about equal on meth. 

A new report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration counts the admissions to publicly funded or licensed abuse programs. “Rural admissions were more likely than urban admissions to report primary abuse of alcohol (49.5 vs. 36.1 percent) or nonheroin opiates (10.6 vs. 4.0 percent),” said the report, citing 2009 data.

Urban “admissions were more likely than rural admissions to report primary abuse of heroin (21.8 vs. 3.1 percent) or cocaine (11.9 vs. 5.6 percent).”

The common assumption is that methamphetamine is a rural drug, but admission rates in rural and urban programs were nearly equal. 

Rural users were less likely to abuse drugs daily, but, on average, they started at an earlier age.

Nebraska Communities Getting Better — The latest Nebraska Rural Poll finds that more than a third of the residents questioned thought their communities had improved in the last year while only 20 percent said things had changed for the worse. 

The poll found that a high percentage of people were engaged in local organizations or churches — about three out of four rural residents — but these high numbers were down from the last time these questions were asked in 2002.

Impulse Marketing and Obesity — Food marketers pay extra to have their goods placed at the end of aisles or in the checkout lines because that’s where we make impulse buys. And this is a reason we are getting fatter, according to a new study

Big Bird and Rural America — Brad Plummer in the Washington Post lays out the case for funding public broadcasting (both radio and television). A lot of it has to do with serving rural communities. 

Public broadcasting funding has gotten to be part of the presidential campaign because Republican Mitt Romney says he would cut the $445 million subsidy. And Plummer writes that this would hurt rural viewers and listeners the most:

Now, if Congress took this funding away, NPR and PBS would likely survive, though perhaps diminished—PBS gets just 15 percent of its budget from the government, and NPR just 2 percent.  ”Sesame Street” would also be fine, as it largely survives on corporate sponsorships and merchandising deals. But a number of federally-funded public stations around the country might get shuttered. In many rural areas, local stations receive more than 50 percent of their funding from state and local governments. 

Is that a problem? Can’t people in poorer or rural areas just watch other TV channels? Listen to other radio content? Perhaps. But the second argument is that public television tends to be more educational than what the private sector offers. As Kevin Zelnio details, only two other cable television networks—Nick Jr. and Disney Jr.—offer dedicated educational programming for children. “Other stations’ programming,” he notes, “does not even come close the educational value of these 2 stations and PBS.” For families that can’t afford cable, PBS is the sole option.

Maine’s “Keystone” Pipeline — Maine activists say a Canadian company wants to reverse the flow in a pipeline leading from the coast into Canada and use the pipeline to move tar sands oil from Alberta to the U.S. coast. 

The Keystone XL pipeline would move the same product from Alberta to the Gulf Coast. That pipeline was blocked first in Nebraska and then by the U.S. State Department.

Recruiting Docs — Recruiting doctors to rural hospitals will get harder, according to a new report from the Association of Staff Physician Recruiters. 

The report “suggests that the increased demand for healthcare services, which are expected with the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act, is going to make recruiting doctors even more difficult for rural providers in the coming years.”

“There is no indication whatsoever that rural recruiting is going to get any easier,” says Shelly Tudor, chair of the ASPR Benchmarking Committee and member-at-large of the ASPR Board of Directors.

“In fact, the report shows that the cost of recruitment is going up, [which will make it] it harder for rural healthcare organizations to compete. A clear correlation exists between the facilities’ population size and acceptance rates, with offers from organizations in larger populations much more likely to be accepted than those in smaller populations.”

 

 

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