There’s been an ongoing push to provide greater access to health care services for Hoosier farmers and those living in Indiana’s rural communities. That push is being led by former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams.
“That is a huge problem and as someone who grew up in a rural community, I know about this personally,” says Dr. Adams, served as U.S. Surgeon General during the Trump Administration. He now serves as the Executive Director of Purdue’s Health Equity Initiatives.
Dr. Adams says a lack of access to health care in rural areas is an issue he knows all too well.
“I literally had to be MEDEVACed from a rural community to [a] children’s hospital in Washington DC when I was younger because I was having an asthma attack and we didn’t have health care facilities in my community that could take care of me, and so this is something that’s very personal to me,” says Dr. Adams, who was the Keynote speaker at the Purdue Ag Alumni Fish Fry at the Indiana State Fairgrounds on Saturday.
He says one of his areas of focus is getting more doctors and nurses into those rural areas.
“We’re trying to expand the medical training opportunities from downtown Indianapolis to rural communities so that people understand how to take care of individuals in different places and different communities.”
Dr. Adams also says computer software programs like Zoom and Skype are also helping to improve access to health care.
“Throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen a massive expansion of telehealth,” says Dr. Adams. “I’m excited about the opportunity that provides for people to get care in their home communities, as opposed to having to drive two-to-three hours to get care in the big city.”
But, he says telehealth can be more effective if broadband internet service is made available in rural areas.
“We need to absolutely understand that we aren’t going to have equitable opportunities for education, for health [and] for income if we don’t have equitable access to broadband. [We’re] looking at different ways that we can get broadband access either by a mobile broadband access or by actually sending the lines out to those rural communities,” according to Dr. Adams.
He says he and his team are asking Indiana’s farmers and ag leaders to help identify ways to improve health services.
“I think Purdue has a really unique opportunity because of our strong foundation in agriculture to talk about building better health throughout this country,” says Dr. Adams. “If we can promote education and opportunity through the agricultural community, then we actually can solve a number of health problems out there including COVID.”
Click BELOW to hear C.J. Miller’s report from the Purdue Ag Alumni Fish Fry on Dr. Adams’ push for greater health care access for Indiana’s rural communities.