Appalachia is currently dealing with a significant health crisis in the failure of several states to adopt the expansion of Medicaid offered by the federal government. The region is caught between research that points to community health initiatives as the most successful programs, as well as the most accepted by Appalachians, and pressure from state governments to seek national programs. Issues arise when considering that the regional culture often rejects large-scale, national ‘hand-outs’ in favor of depending on religious and familial care networks. However, there are several community programs operating in rural Appalachia that have proven successful; to include a mobile mammography unit and a home-based smoking cessation program. Communities have the power to gain agency in the region, the stage is set, and all that is left is for Appalachia to question its place in the system.
4 thoughts on “Community Power in Appalachian Healthcare by Anna Clemens in Section 02”
Great job! Governor McAuliffe just spoke about people in south west Virginia who stand in line at 4:00 a.m. for their chance to access healthcare one day each year offered by volunteers last Thursday at the Statewide Independent Living Conference. I have a coworker who volunteers with these units to provide deaf and hard of hearing services during these community health care days in the Appalachian area of Virginia as well as in the Northern Neck that faces similar problems. Governor McAuliffe also sited several rural hospitals that will be closing in the near future due to Virginia’s refusal to participate in Medicaid Expansion. In his speech promoting Medicaid Expansion, the governor also referred to your point about a child having to travel to a neighboring state to access health care. He did, unfortunately, show ignorance to the actual services that Medicaid offers adults in Virginia when he asked a man why he had all of his teeth pulled out at this year’s one health care day. The man responded to the governor saying, you don’t understand, down here, we equate teeth with pain and this is my one chance to get it taken care of. This was a bad example for the governor to use in promoting Medicaid Expansion unless Virginia reforms its services because currently Virginia does not offer adults dental services through Medicaid. Prison continues to be the best place to receive dental services for some Virginians of low income. Many health and cardiac problems come from dental infections and would be a good cost preventative measure for Virginia to adopt dental as a Medicaid service. Naturally, the governor pointed to the bipartisan issue as Medicaid Expansion’s main foe and encouraged us all to vote accordingly.
This sounds like a really interesting topic! I think the healthcare crisis is really fascinating to look at because it’s a problem that is often overlooked and that we rarely hear about. I watched a documentary awhile ago about how difficult it is for people living in rural areas (particularly in Appalachia) to access dental care. As a result, many of them end up losing almost all of their teeth by the time they’re in their forties. I like how you looked at the agency that can be gained by looking at the crisis and solutions from a community level. Good job!
As someone who has volunteered in Appalachia many times I really enjoyed reading this research project. I’ve never looked much into healthcare issues in Appalachia but I can definitely see how it is a huge problem. From my experiences I could relate to how they are unwilling to receive help. I worked with Appalachia Service Project to help work on homes for impoverished people in Appalachia, and a majority of the time the families seemed embarrassed about receiving help. Most of the families live in “hollers” surrounded by other family members and really don’t seem to go out of that circle for help. I never thought about how this could impact the healthcare system. I really do agree that services where people are kept anonymous, like the phone based counseling programs, would be beneficial. Hopefully things will improve in Appalachia soon, because they really need to.
I volunteered in the regions you discussed in your paper and found all of the information on healthcare very interesting. I liked how you brought up the community unity that could work to fight against this important issue, while i was volunteering I noticed that because of the poverty in that area there were very close ties and an interdependence on other residents in the area. It is very easy for people to see the healthcare being given as a free handout but it is completely different when seeing what benefits affordable and easy-access healthcare could bring to a community to improve their standards of living.
I wrote my paper on the homeless population in Fredericksburg and noticed a lot of the same trends and opinions formed on low income individuals.