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article imageSmall town hospital health care in mix of political debates Special

By Carol Forsloff     Feb 8, 2011 in Health
Natchitoches - “You get blankets, pillow, and breakfast too, if you want to stay the night. He’s fine, but you can stay here if you’re worried.” That health care support is what people say they want, even as politicians debate the issues of health care.
Recently a Pew Internet Project survey, examined by the New York Times, reported that four in five Internet users have looked for medical and health care data on the Internet. Specifically they have searched for specific diseases and treatments. Experts tell us folks are becoming involved and in control of their health care concerns, as indicated by this research. Armed with information they find through research, patients are able to ask pertinent questions and demand better health care, especially when they might be in crisis.
While it’s true, as one traveler tells us, small towns don’t have many specialists, and those who require complicated treatment may need a drive to a larger community or a helicopter trip somewhere else, there are those in-between places that offer the balance of care. That balance means general medicine as well as specialists, and a hospital, for that personalized care people say they really want in medical treatment.
University towns, because they are often associated with education in medical care, often provide a reasonable level of health care, so a birds-eye look at one of them gives an outline of what that might be.
Natchitoches Regional Hospital serves a parish of approximately 35,000 people. Many of those living in the countryside are poor. While the Outreach Medical Center, in the area known as the “black side” of town, serves a large population of walk-in patients, Natchitoches Regional, in this University town, turns no one away from its emergency rooms. It is among many hospitals still serving the poor with the compassion said to be part of general medicine delivery ongoing in most of the United States.
A day in the life of this hospital shows that compassionate delivery of care, from the pink ladies who offer their volunteer services, to the doctors who spend time with patients who have conditions needing intensive care.
“I give this way because I believe in what I do. I was bored sitting at home anyway, after working all my life. This way I can give back to the community,” one of these pink ladies said.
“As for patients, I do what I can. I’m not a professional, just one of the people here when people need comfort. I take people to see the doctor so they know where to go and what rooms are used for consult.” At the age of 72, Jerri Ray expresses how much she cares for the health of people in her community.
Natchitoches General Hospital in Natchitoches  Louisiana provides personalized health care.
Natchitoches General Hospital in Natchitoches, Louisiana provides personalized health care.
The colors, light, bright and cheery, also speak of an interest in patient needs, supporting research that says folks in hospitals do better when the environment supports their good health.
The rest of that family of services, the level of care in small towns, and the reaching out of ordinary citizens in rooms where families wait while loved ones receive care, from volunteers and medical staff as well, is just part of the life on a day at Natchitoches Regional Medical Center. It's that life people think about when they talk about medical care needs in hospital settings like this.
Volunteers and professionals in medicine respond to health needs in Natchitoches as they do in other places in America. The focus is not on political debate, but on patients needs, even as the Congress continues to weigh the pros and cons of health care delivery in the ongoing commentary on medical care in this country.
More about hospital care, Hospital, Pew research, Natchitoches, Health care
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