Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Announcements

Date: October 14, 2021

JAMA: Birth Volume and Geographic Distribution of U.S. Obstetric Hospitals, 2010 – 2018. In an open-access article from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), researchers report that, among more than 34 million hospital births in the U.S., 37.4 percent of the hospitals were low volume. Among low-volume hospitals, 18.9 percent were isolated and 58.4 percent of these were rural.

New Plan and Policy Statement for Climate Impacts on Health. Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) revealed its roadmap for assuring that all parts of the Department address the effects that climate change can have on health and well-being. The plan is in response to an Executive Order for a whole-of-government approach to confronting the crisis that includes extreme weather, rising temperatures and sea levels, and increases in levels of carbon dioxide.

New Spanish Language App Helps Latinos With Health Care. A report from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) shows that insurance coverage and access to care improved significantly for Latinos between 2013 and 2016, but they still have among the highest uninsured rate of any racial or ethnic group within the U.S. To build on progress, HHS launched a Spanish version of its QuestionBuilder app, which can help Latino patients prepare for their in-person or telehealth appointments. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality built the app to help users improve their interaction with clinicians, providing questions they might want to ask with links to helpful resources. The 2020 Census reports that Hispanics are the second most prevalent racial or ethnic group in rural America, comprising 10.4 percent of the rural population. 

Rural Doulas Supporting Maternal and Infant Health. The latest feature article in The Rural Monitor spotlights a New Mexico doula program that reaches American Indian, Hispanic, and other populations who lack nearby labor/delivery units, a Minnesota program helping moms experiencing incarceration, and a North Dakota program training postpartum doulas to care for families impacted by opioid use disorder and other substance use.