Healthcare Access in Appalachia and the Coronavirus Pandemic
Rural healthcare systems will likely be unable to treat everyone in need
As of Tuesday night, every state in the U.S. has at least one positive case of the novel coronavirus. In Appalachia, healthcare providers are growing increasingly concerned about the capacity of their rural healthcare systems and the overall health and social determinants that might leave the region’s citizens at higher risk for a more serious case of the virus.
“We do not want to overwhelm our health care. We don’t want everyone coming at once and overwhelming the hospital,” Dr. Kathryn Moffett, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at West Virginia University Medicine Children’s, said in a video released by WVU Health Sciences. “We want to spread out infection and not overwhelm our hospitals to be able to treat everyone and keep everyone safe.”
COVID-19 most seriously affects people over 65, people who are immuno-compromised and those who have serious chronic medical conditions, including respiratory conditions such as asthma and COPD, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As medical centers across the region focus on increasing their capacity to test for the virus, the statistics below provide a better understanding of the access and general health of the region.
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