Finding measures to improve rural health care

All this week, we've looked at some of the mounting problems physicians face when it comes to deal with rural patients.

To close out the series, we find out what hospital ceo's and university administrators are doing to close that gap from the city to the farm.

With more doctors retiring and more rural patients struggling to find good health care, the medical community is starting to shift its focus.

As we mentioned in the last part of our series, the Texas Tech university Health Scenes Center is looking more at the medical problems facing the rural population..and they believe catching the problems before they're chronic will not only stretch health care, it can make rural care more manageable, according to Tedd Mitchell, President of the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center.

"As they get older, especially in west Texas,especially in the Panhandle, they get less mobile with no cars and it's more difficult to get in and it's more difficult for the families who have to take time off to get mom and dad to go in and see the doctor."

Blood pressure, heart problems and obesity are some of the top medical problems in rural settings. And addressing the medical conditions and not just throwing money at the problems is the focus of Mitchell.

"Rather than throwing money, we need to be responsible for going to Austin, going to Washington, D.C., and offering up solutions."

And then being able to address these problems and offer medical services in more outlying areas in the form of rural hospitals like Golden Plains Community Hospital in Borger, says CEO Dennis Jack.

"The new technology comes along and they're doing things in a smaller setting and we hadn't seen it before...but 60% is due to outpatient and that's really where the drive has come."

Mitchell says he believes the changes will come about sooner than later, and most of the problems are of a legislative nature that need to be changed to increase and provde better rural care.