College of Public Health

Michael Meit quoted on medical deserts


Michael Meit, Co-Director of the East Tennessee State University College of Public Health Center for Rural Health Research, was quoted in the Washington Examiner on the topic of medical deserts.

In the Washington Examiner series, Dried Up: America's Medical Deserts, the Washington Examiner will investigate what happened to vast regions of the country that have seen medical services evaporate over the past decade.

"In this country, we are interdependent on one another," Meit told the Washington Examiner. "Absolutely interdependent. If you want food on your table, if you want energy, if you want a robust military, if you want good recreational opportunities ... all of these things happen in our rural communities."

Meit is quoted in three separate stories.

Medical deserts: What they are, where they are, and who they affect defines and details medical deserts, a term that refers to an area whose population has inadequate access to medical care. It covers many dimensions, including access to primary healthcare providers, maternity wards, emergency services, trauma centers, mental health facilities, nursing homes, community health centers, and pharmacies.

'Medical deserts' strand millions without access to life-saving healthcare shares that vast regions of the country, stretching from the Badlands of South Dakota to the Sonoran Desert in Arizona and beyond, have all seen medical services dry up over the past decade. Hospitals have closed, doctors have fled, and pharmacies have been forced into bankruptcy. What's left are barren terrains known as "medical deserts," a term coined for areas where residents have to travel more than an hour to get to a hospital, primary care center, OBGYN, or other specialized medical services.

Doctor recruitment and free-standing ERs key to turning medical deserts into fertile ground details the help that may be on the horizon for more than 41 million people stranded in medical deserts across the country, where access to doctors, hospitals, and pharmacies has all but disappeared over the past two decades.

Meit concludes, "If you want something to happen when you turn on the light switch, if you want things you can buy when you go to the grocery store, you better darn well be concerned about your rural brothers and sisters out there.",