Health care startup offers mobile care for rural Americans

Health care startup offers mobile care for rural Americans

(NewsNation) — One health care startup is looking to break down barriers preventing rural communities from having access to basic care, providing Americans with convenient in-person and telehealth care options.

Homeward, a public benefit corporation, is bringing comprehensive health care to rural Michigan and soon expanding to Minnesota, hoping to offer solutions to populations that have lacked access to quality health care.

For Greg and Leslie Cornell, rural Michigan is where they said their hearts are.

“We’ve decided that we are a lot happier living in the country than living where the hospitals are,” Greg said. “We built this home 50 years ago, and we’ve been in it since.”

And in that home, Greg and Leslie raised three kids. But now, they are all getting older.

Greg said he suffered a heart attack and the nearest hospital was miles away, where an ambulance could take hours to reach them.

That’s where Homeward comes in, offering mobile clinics and in-home visits to those whose other options are scarce.

About 14% of the nation’s population currently lives in rural areas, which according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service is about 46 million Americans.

However, rural America has seen 151 hospital closures since 2010, according to the University of North Carolina Rural Health Research Program, and 40% of rural hospitals still operating are at high risk of closure.

Plus, new data revealed that almost 66% of Primary Care Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) are rural.

Greg and Leslie live in an area otherwise known as a care desert, where U.S. residents don’t have nearby access to health care. In fact, due to the lack of health care access, there is a 23% higher mortality rate in rural areas compared to urban areas.

“I’ve had many tell me there’s nowhere to go to, that there’s no one they can turn to,” Jeff Anderson, a physician assistant, said.

Anderson explained that many of his patients haven’t seen a medical professional in years.

“We see a great deal of untreated diabetes, untreated high cholesterol, blood pressure … skin cancers that have gone untreated,” Anderson said.

For Greg, it was his chronic conditions that were left untreated.

“They do my blood and next thing I know, I have a prescription for thyroid medication,” Greg said.

Greg’s wife said getting the care was so much easier than at the hospital because Homeward came right to their home.

“They draw blood, they check your blood pressure, they check your oxygen level and then they talk to you. And that’s very important,” Leslie said.

“They take care of me like my mama, they do very well,” Greg said.

Homeward’s CEO Jennifer Schneider started the organization with the intent to make people healthier in a more affordable and sustainable way. The organization even takes care of the total cost of care.

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