Statewide: January 28, 2011 Archive
Posted at 6:00 AM on January 28, 2011
by David Cazares
Filed under: Healthcare
One of the most pressing issues for Minnesota is how to ensure medical care for people in rural areas.
Increasingly, that's a difficult proposition. Rural hospitals are losing money as they try to provide health care no longer covered by the state General Assistance Medical Care program. A growing number are trying to cut their losses while still providing care for the poorest of the poor.
Faced with growing deficits, hospital officials wonder if they can afford high-tech machines to treat patients.
The problem is particularly acute in Virginia, on Minnesota's Iron Range, where the Virginia Regional Medical Center is struggling. A big part of the problem in rural areas is the low reimbursement rates from federal programs like Medicare and Medicaid.
At noon today, Minnesota Public Radio News and the weekly newspaper Hometown Focus will host an online forum about the challenges facing rural health providers in Virginia and beyond.
Among the participants will be Michelle Fleming, Chief Nursing Officer for the Virginia Regional Medical Center; Al Vogt, chairman of the Minnesota Wilderness Health Care Coalition; Virginia Mayor Steve Peterson and Dr. Wendell Smith, a surgeon who is on the VRMC hospital commission.
Please join us.
David Cazares is the print and Statewide Blog editor for Minnesota Today
Rescuers used a boat like the one above to save two stranded fishermen on Lake Superior. It looks much more serene than the depiction of the rescue. Massive waves broke apart ice which led the fishermen to think this was the end.
MPR: Wick was about 500 yards from shore when cracks suddenly appeared. He and Popko made their way shoreward as heavy swells below the ice expanded the fractures. But as they jumped from one ice chunk to another they ran out of steppingstones.They rode out the storm on separate floes while waves raged as high as 12 feet.
What's a guy gotta do to get a doctor around here?
The healthcare challenges in Virginia are similar to those around rural America with no easy solutions and as Mayor Steve Peterson stated candidly, "This is really a difficult situation, If we as city leaders do nothing, what is the outcome? I fear a lot worse for all."
Join the conversation and let us know: How would you save a struggling hospital in rural Minnesota?
Police Chief has a different question in Virginia
One of the biggest mysteries Virginia police chief Dana Waldron is trying to get to the bottom of right now is why he's on leave. The 32-year veteran of the Virginia police force tells the Dultuh New Tribune:
"I suspect some things, but I'm dumbfounded to be honest with you. ... Not that relations haven't been strained here lately."
Waldron was sent a letter a letter late in the week that indicated that a complaint of unbecoming conduct" had been filed against him. He still says he's baffled about what spurred the complaint.
Economic indicators say yes, no and maybe
Interest rates continue to stay low, unemployment is on the decline and job outlook appears to be picking up. But local governments, and the good people who pay the taxes that support those governments, continue to be dogged with serious budget problems. Some schools are heading toward extracurricular activities for only those who can afford them. As the growth in the Minnesota Today
Michael Olson is online editor for Minnesota Today. His weekly news roundups will appear on Friday.