News & Media

Colorado Divide: In rural Colorado, doctors are retiring and dying — and no one is taking their place. - The Denver Post

Health Care Reform

January 5, 2018  |  John Ingold, The Denver Post  |  Link to article

"Health care in rural America is ill.

Dozens of studies have documented the symptoms: People who live in rural areas are more likely to die from heart disease, stroke, cancer, injuries, drug overdoses, car crashes and suicide. Women are more likely to die in childbirth. Children are more likely to die as infants.

Dozens more studies have sought to diagnose the cause.

Rural areas generally have higher rates of smoking and poverty, lower quality of vegetables in the grocery store, and longer drive times to reach trauma care.

But, mostly, the studies keep coming back to the same problem. There just aren’t enough doctors and other medical providers.

Nationally, fewer than 10 percent of the nation’s physicians practice in a rural area — even though such areas hold 20 percent of the U.S. population.

In Colorado, there are 13 counties — all rural — that do not have a hospital, including two without even a clinic. Two counties, including Crowley, don’t have a single doctor.

As a result, rural Coloradans face greater barriers to receive care. Ratios of patients to providers are higher in rural areas than in urban. A Colorado Health Institute survey from earlier this year found that rural Colorado counties have the longest wait times for patients trying to see a general-practice doctor or a specialist."

This article originally published on The Denver Post on December 10, 2017. It has been formatted for publication on Together Colorado's latest news page. Click here to read the full article.