'Behind the Blue': Researchers Study Rural Ambulance Services, Health Care Access

Alison Davis & SuZanne Troske. Pete Comparoni | UK Photo
Alison Davis & SuZanne Troske. Pete Comparoni | UK Photo

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 20, 2019) – When hospitals close we can assume that those who live near them will presumably have less access to medical care because they will have to travel farther for health care services. Since 2009, five rural hospitals in Kentucky have closed, and many more are at risk of following suit.

Alison Davis, a professor of agricultural economics in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment and director of Community and Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky (CEDIK) and SuZanne Troske, a research associate at CEDIK, recently authored a policy paper, and are working on a research article, that discusses the impact rural hospital closures have on the length of time an individual spends being transported in an ambulance.

While the paper didn’t offer specific solutions to the problem, the two researchers plan to conduct further studies to examine air transportation as an alternative, how longer ambulance rides impact health outcomes and understand the importance of hospitals as an economic driver in a community.

In this week’s episode of Behind the Blue, we discuss all this as well as the role communities can play in keeping rural hospitals open, the important piece of healthcare services provided by ambulances and emergency medical services and how economic development can impact health outcomes.

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