Fort Scott, Scott Simon, Mercy Hospital discussed on Weekend Edition Saturday

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For the arts. This is weekend edition from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. The Corona virus pandemic has put Immense strain on U. S hospitals not only have nearly 1300 healthcare workers died, but dozens of hospitals have filed for bankruptcy. And rural America is bearing the brunt of this trend, which started before the pandemic more than 130 rural hospitals have closed in the past decade. 15 In 2020 alone, joined now. By Sarah Jane Tribble of Kaiser Health News who's been covering these closures. And the communities which they affect Sarah Jane. Thanks so much for being with us. Thanks for having me. You have a podcast called where it hurts, And it's about Fort Scott, Kansas on what happened to the people there after the town hospital closed. Why did you have spend more than here reporting on this one Small town? Well, Scott, I'm from Roll Kansas. I grew up on a gravel road in the southeastern part of the state. Just in our from this town, Fort Scott. My parents still live there. It was my mom who called me one day and totally Mercy Hospital was closing. And it closed at the same time. My older sister, who was living just outside of Kansas City, was sick with pancreatic cancer. So I was thinking a lot about how people use the health system at the time. You've reported on some of the many reasons why rural hospitals are losing money, including their own areas. They're losing population and the aging population. But now that this this hospital mercy in Fort Scott is closed, Where do people Who need medical help go for treatment. Well, people have to drive further. They have to drive further to have a baby to get dialysis. They even have to drive further for their chemotherapy treatment, and that's really hard. Rule. Americans as a whole tend to be an older and sicker population, and they have lower incomes. I spoke to people who couldn't afford that Dr. One of the saddest things is when a small town hospital closes. It affects those people's sense of place. Their pride in their community, and the people feel less secure and more vulnerable. Like Linda Finley, her husband died just after the hospital closed, and now she lives alone. You know, I don't think losing the hospitals the end of the world for Fort Scott But I sure think it What an ugly notch in her belt and not just Fort Scott. All these other hospitals that have closed down. I mean, my guy. You need to feel like you're safe and could be taken care of where those air really fears. We know that people who live in rural places where hospital has closed are more likely to die than those who live in cities where a hospital has closed and now course were in the eighth month of a pandemic. And in fact, in rural America, Corona virus cases seem to be at record levels. What does this mean? For people who live in communities like Fort Scott, where hospitals have closed? Yeah, it's really troubling. We know. Covert 19 is more dangerous for certain people like older Americans, but also people who are obese and people who have chronic diseases like diabetes. Plus, we know the virus is especially difficult for people of color. When you consider that role, hospital closures have happened more frequently in the South. It's a recipe for more deaths. And surgeon. What are you hearing out of Fort Scott during this pandemic with the hospital gown? Just this week, I heard there's a surge of cases in southeast Kansas. So after Mercy Hospital closed in Fort Scott two years ago, the next closest hospital became via Christie in a town called Pittsburgh. That hospital said this week that they have 20 Cove in 19 patients in their beds. That's a significant number for them, so they're temporarily stopping elective surgeries and procedures to deal with this surge of patients and That's going to hurt their bottom line. I'm wondering what you've learned from people in Fort Scott that other communities might learn from right now. I talked with a lot of people in Fort Scott, who have really significant health care needs, and they were scared when the hospital closed. But even if the hospital had not closed, not all of their health problems could have been taken care of at the hospital. Hospitals are not always the best place for people who need help managing their chronic illnesses like emphysema and diabetes, not to mention addiction and mental health issues. I saw people in Fort Scott gradually come to terms with this idea that a traditional hospital may not be what they really need. Often just a good community Health clinic can fill some of the gaps and some rule places have tried a kind of hybrid hospital just an emergency room with maybe a few overnight beds. Sarah Jane, troubled health reporter at Kaiser Health News, Talking about the closing of rural hospitals and the stories she found in one small Kansas town where that's happened, you can hear more. In her narrative podcast where it hurts. Sarah Jane. Thanks so much for being with us. You're welcome, Scott. President Trump and Joe Biden are making last minute pitches to seniors. Trump campaign yesterday did crowded rallies in Florida and Georgia. Biden spoke to socially distant supporters in Michigan. Nearly one and for eligible voters are over 65 this election that makes him critical to the candidates for Trump. He's trying to show more empathetic side when talking about the pandemic. He's earned poor marks for how he's handled it. But after recovering from covert 19 himself, and as the calendar winds down to election day, he's trying out a new approach. NPR White House correspondent issue Roscoe joins us to tell us about it, Kisha Thanks for being with us. Thanks for having me with some questions about the president's own health Still in the air, he was in Florida with a group of seniors. And of course, we will note, according to the U. S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention people who are.

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