People who live in rural North Carolina are still more likely to suffer from serious health problems than their urban counterparts. Rural counties show higher rates of heart disease and obesity, and rural residents have a lower life expectancy.
The recent closures of rural hospitals around the state makes those residents even more vulnerable. Research shows that systemic problems like slow economic development and spotty insurance coverage also contribute to rural health disparities.
Despite those trends, some rural systems have managed to survive by adapting their business models to the changing elements of modern health care, including new policies mandated by the Affordable Care Act.
Host Frank Stasio talks with Adam O'Neal, mayor of Belhaven, N.C., about how his town has been affected by the closure of Vidant Pungo Hospital in 2014.
He also talks with Mark Holmes, director of the Rural Health Research and Policy Analysis Center at UNC-Chapel Hill; Dr. Adam Zolotor, president and CEO of the North Carolina Institute of Medicine; Dr. Pearly Graham-Hoskins, hospitalist medical director at Bladen County Hospital in Elizabethtown, N.C.; and Jerry Cummings, COO of Putnam County Memorial Hospital in Unionville, Mo.