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By Allana, Amanda, Ella, Layla, Maria


Our group’s umbrella topic of rural healthcare encompasses the ways in which accessibility, cultural practices, caregiving, language barriers, and  socioeconomic status influence individuals’ experiences with healthcare in the rural American South. For this project, rural is being defined as a location with low population density and prevalence of agricultural businesses, small towns, and a relatively countryside-like geography. Migrant farmworkers are defined as Latino individuals who are away from their permanent residence in order to secure temporary or seasonal employment in the US agricultural industry. Our project highlights stories from southern individuals who have diverse personal experiences related to healthcare. Ranging from home remedies passed down over generations to struggling to receive care due being a non-English speaker to never seeing a dentist because of a lack of insurance, each of these stories emphasize the ways in which the dynamics of rural living and culture impact the experiences, preferences, and perspectives of healthcare.

Maria’s essay focuses on the ways in which cultural identities in rural south communities influence individuals’ choices in regards to healthcare. This includes alternative medicine, holistic ideas of health, and the perspectives on the adequacy and necessity of seeing a medical provider. Stories from Nancy Holt and Maria Torres explore how such perspectives shaped by culture (both through community and family upbringing) influence treatment choices, such as root medicine practices, and the decision to see a physician in times of illness. Relating to the ways culture impacts how citizens of rural communities seek and interact with healthcare, Layla’s essay discusses how the English language barrier creates challenges in accessing and navigating the US healthcare system for migrant and LEP (low English proficiency) Latinos. It will detail how these challenges are exacerbated in rural southern communities specifically, due to the decreased presence of Spanish-speaking medical staff and/or interpreters, and a lack of resources that is characteristic of rural health clinics as well. Interviews of Claudia Garrett and Maria Torres will add to explanation of the current limitations of southern rural healthcare systems in supporting LEP Latino patients and help to discuss the vitality of Spanish language interpreters and/or clinicians in providing quality healthcare and support in medical environments for the growing Latino population in southern rural areas. In connection with discussion of the difficulties encountered in approaching the US healthcare system, Amanda’s essay focuses on the problems access imposes on rural Americans. This essay aims to both address and unpack barriers and implications that accessibility poses on rural America, as well as potential solutions to these discrepancies. Rural Americans face distinct challenges such as great distances between them and healthcare facilities, financial constraints, and a shortage in healthcare providers. Adding onto discussion of financial constraints and its relationship to healthcare, Ella’s essay focuses on how economic status plays a role in the healthcare system. This essay will target how economic status causes people to not have adequate care, especially in rural areas. It will discuss the difference in resource accessibility between urban and rural areas. Rural areas are at a disadvantage when it comes to healthcare and treatment compared to those in urban areas. The essay will discuss poverty, treatment, and solutions for this gap in healthcare. Stories from Stephanie Atkinson and Amy will further discuss healthcare in rural communities and economic status. Relating elements of family, community, healthcare infrastructure, and mental health, Allana’s essay focuses on the mental and emotional impacts of informal caregiving for the elderly and how those effects are exacerbated in rural communities, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. It will focus on the lack of healthcare structures in rural areas such as long-term care and rehab facilities to support these families, as well as the effects of social support and social isolation. In both stories from Heather Troutman and Martha Hutt, both women detail their experiences with informal caregiving roles and their individual perspectives. Martha describes how her husband’s dementia affected his perception of the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges of caring for him. Heather details her and her father’s experiences as caretakers for her mother when she was diagnosed with leukemia.

Student Essays

The Land of Limited Transportation and the Home of the Uninsured

“Should I call a midwife or try and make it to the hospital?” “Can I afford to make it to my ultrasound appointment?” “Should I buy my prenatals or groceries this week?” These were among the many questions bouncing around … Read more

Health Impacts for Informal Caregivers in Rural Communities

Introduction As the hidden support to our healthcare system, informal caregivers, specifically those who care for a spouse, parent, or other adult relative, make up an estimated 53 million adults in the United States[1]. Informal caregivers assist those with chronic … Read more

Holistic Home Remedies and Cultural Perspectives of Southern Rural Healthcare

Introduction The rural South is home to a variety of cultural identities, all of which influence the ways in which southerners perceive and access healthcare. This essay touches on racial and ethnological cultural identities within the south which include, but … Read more

Socioeconomic Class and Rural Healthcare: the reality of this disparity

Introduction Imagine you are a 65-year-old grocery worker, Eleanor, in rural North Carolina. You are presented with a consistent cough, chest pain, and shortness of breath and have recently been coughing up blood. After this pain has been carrying on … Read more

Effect of the English language barrier on receiving quality healthcare for low English proficiency Latinos in the rural south

Introduction Low English proficiency or LEP Latinos, many of which are recent and first generation immigrants or migrant farmworkers, are those who have a limited ability to communicate in English. LEP Latinos represent an increasing constituency of individuals in rural … Read more