Changes could help Fla. improve rural health care

Changes could help Fla. improve rural health care

McClusky, North Dakota: population 380. “We count all the dogs and cats,” said Sarah Baker, the only health care professional for miles around.

Baker is the lone nurse practitioner at the Northland Community Health Center, and she makes the daily hour-long drive back and forth between her home in Bismarck and McClusky so the residents of McClusky don’t have to make that journey every time they need medical care.

“We have 96-year-olds who are still living on their farms, and they can’t drive their cars to Bismarck in the winter,” Baker said. She added, “They’ve had two or three different practitioners that come and go. I’ve been here five years, and it’s really made a difference in the trust level in the community.”

Baker is a member of the National Health Service Program, which offers support to health care professionals in remote or underserved communities. The NHSP’s Loan Repayment Program that Baker is part of helps pay off students’ loans if they work in these communities. Programs like this are filling in the hole of health care in many remote areas throughout the country.

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