Flow of information can bring disturbance

If you haven’t read Jennifer Vogel’s story (and seen Vickie Kettlewell’s video) on the renegade doctor of Osakis, Minn., check it out here.

Dr. Susan Rutten Wasson makes house calls and only takes cash or check as payment, offering up in her daily operation as a critique of the way some medical care gets dispensed and paid for these days. The story has been getting a lot of interest around the Web.

We produced the piece as part of a package on rural health care in Minnesota. The timing was appropriate because today in Duluth several hundred administrators, public health officials, academics and others are gathering to talk about the topic.

This morning, Brock Slabach, senior vice president of the National Rural Health Association in Kansas City, Kan., told attendees to imagine themselves as “islands of excellence in seas of mediocrity.”

That doesn’t mean he glossed over the difficulties faced by rural health care providers. Lots of people talk about the “new normal.” He referred to the same notion as an “era of austerity” that is upon the rural health care industry.

Issues include workforce shortages, public insurance reimbursement rates, decaying infrastructures and health care disparities among the vulnerable that rural health care leaders need to deal with.

A key? Let information flow freely. “In some circumstances this does disturb the peace,” said Slabach.

This is an interesting point to keep in mind when reading the story of Susan Rutten Wasson.

The Cornerstones of Rural Health, Minnesota Rural Health Conference takes place in Duluth today and Tuesday.

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