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How Former US Surgeon General Adams is Pushing for Greater Health Care Access in Rural Areas

Former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams speaks with Michigan Ag Today. Photo: Eric Pfeiffer / Michigan Ag Today.

There’s been an ongoing push to provide greater access to health care services for Hoosier farmers and those living in Michigan’s rural communities.  That push is being led by former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams.

“That is a huge problem and as someone who grew up in a rural community, I know about this personally,” says Dr. Adams, served as U.S. Surgeon General during the Trump Administration.

Dr. Adams says a lack of access to health care in rural areas is an issue he knows all too well.

“I literally had to be MEDEVACed from a rural community to [a] children’s hospital in Washington DC when I was younger because I was having an asthma attack and we didn’t have health care facilities in my community that could take care of me, and so this is something that’s very personal to me,” says Dr. Adams.

Dr. Jerome Adams, former U.S. Surgeon General, speaking at the Purdue Ag Alumni Fish Fry. Photo: C.J. Miller / Michigan Ag Today.

He says one of his areas of focus is getting more doctors and nurses into those rural areas.

“We’re trying to expand the medical training opportunities from downtown Indianapolis to rural communities so that people understand how to take care of individuals in different places and different communities.”

Dr. Adams also says computer software programs like Zoom and Skype are also helping to improve access to health care.

“Throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen a massive expansion of telehealth,” says Dr. Adams.  “I’m excited about the opportunity that provides for people to get care in their home communities, as opposed to having to drive two-to-three hours to get care in the big city.”

But, he says telehealth can be more effective if broadband internet service is made available in rural areas.

“We need to absolutely understand that we aren’t going to have equitable opportunities for education, for health [and] for income if we don’t have equitable access to broadband.  [We’re] looking at different ways that we can get broadband access either by a mobile broadband access or by actually sending the lines out to those rural communities,” according to Dr. Adams.

He says he and his team are asking Indiana’s farmers and ag leaders to help identify ways to improve health services.

“I think Purdue has a really unique opportunity because of our strong foundation in agriculture to talk about building better health throughout this country,” says Dr. Adams.  “If we can promote education and opportunity through the agricultural community, then we actually can solve a number of health problems out there including COVID.”

Click BELOW to hear C.J. Miller’s report on former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Adams’ push for greater health care access for Michigan’s rural communities.

Dr. Jerome Adams, former U.S. Surgeon General, being escorted into the Purdue Ag Alumni Fish Fry. Photo: C.J. Miller / Michigan Ag Today.
Former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams with Karen Plaut, Dean of Agriculture at Purdue during the Purdue Ag Alumni Fish Fry. Photo: C.J. Miller / Michigan Ag Today.