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Federal Panel Observing Rural Health Issues in Kentucky

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Medi-Share (http://blog.medi-share.org)

  A central Kentucky community hospital is playing host this week to a federal panel studying ways to increase life expectancy in rural areas.

The National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services met Thursday at Marcum and Wallace Memorial Hospital in Irvine. Hospital CEO Susie Starling says the panel is reviewing day-to-day experiences.

"It's providing them with real life situations and perspectives that they may not have gotten without coming into the communities and talking with the people who are actually living it every day," Starling said.

Starling hopes the three-day meeting will translate into additional federal funds for rural health care.

Health care officials say while life expectancy has increased in the general population, some rural communities have seen a decline. University of Kentucky trauma surgeon Dr. Andrew Bernard says substance abuse is a major factor in that decline.

"How people prioritize other aspects of their well-being when all they're doing is seeking a high, they're not gonna go get health care for other problems like their heart disease or lung disease," Bernard said.

The federal group will be making recommendations to the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Stu Johnson is a reporter/producer at WEKU in Lexington, Kentucky.
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