Friday, February 19, 2010

Diabetics in rural Wyoming on their own

From an AP story (via Billings Gazette):

The Wyoming Department of Health reports that the number of Wyoming adults with diabetes more than doubled in the past 13 years.

The department said Thursday that more than 7 percent of Wyoming adults have been diagnosed with diabetes, up from 3 percent in 1997.

Diabetes prevention and control manager Star Morrison said the disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the state.

From July 2006 to June 2007, diabetes led to 615 Wyoming hospitalizations costing $7.5 million, according to the department.

Washakie County has the highest rate of adult diabetes at 9.3 percent. Teton County has the lowest rate at 2.4 percent.

Morrison said the prevalence of diabetes is expected to increase as the state's population ages.

Let's see. Wyoming's population is aging. The diabetes rate is climbing. Our family knows something about diabetes. Chris was diagnosed with Type II diabetes 17 years ago when she was pregnant with our daughter. She sees an endocrinologist in Fort Collins across the border in Colorado. Each month, she goes to her diabetes educators (also in Fort Collins). She is careful about what she eats. She monitors her blood sugar. Our local pharmacist knows her and her prescriptions. In short -- it takes a team to manage diabetes. Family physician, specialist, nurses, educators, pharmacists.

Last year, the Wyoming Office of Rural Health release a report that showed 13 of the state's 23 counties had a shortage of primary-care doctors.

I posted this on the blog Dec. 26:

Washakie County in the Big Horn Basin hasn't a single primary care practitioner for its 8,000-some residents. No OB/GYN docs for healthy baby checkups. No pediatricians for when Johnny pokes his eye with a stick. No nurse practitioner to find out whether you have the flu or just a bad cold.

Or diabetes.

Star Morrison at the Wyoming Department of Health has her job cut out for her. "Aging" is just one factor. Lack of proper medical care in rural areas is another.

Will national healthcare reform address these issues? Perhaps we should ask Senator and physician John Barrasso. He and his Republican cohorts have done their best to derail healthcare reform. Why? Don't he and Sen. Enzi and Rep. Lummis have any empathy for the rural residents of this state? They say they do. But saying and doing are two different things.

Barrasso practiced medicine and politics in Casper, Wyoming's second largest city. Enzi lived in Gillette, booming coal capital of the nation. Lummis is from Cheyenne, the largest city in the state and the capital.

All of these places have hospitals. All have family physicians and specialists. Sure, some of us with insurance still go out of state for better care. We have that option.

But what are rural residents to do?

Suffer, I guess. Live with the fact that if they get diabetes, they're on their own.

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