Rural and urban communities have felt the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic differently. From gaps in health care to transportation issues to isolation, the pandemic has highlighted important differences between city dwellers and rural dwellers.
Dr Gabe Woollam, a family doctor based in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador, and president of the Society of Rural Physicians of Canada (SRPC) says the pandemic has highlighted gaps in access to levels higher care for rural patients. Canada, who has shown how much he depends on transport if he is sick.
Woollam said, “I think rural areas have been unique in the way the pandemic has affected them. Many rural areas depend on healthcare providers outside the community, and the pandemic has really hampered this movement of healthcare providers in a number of ways. “
The SRPC brings together rural physicians from across Canada to network, educate and lobby for better rural health. “We certainly heard very early on from a number of our members that there were concerns in various provinces about the perception that rural realities were not being taken into account in terms of vaccine deployment,” Woollam said.
Concerns that city dwellers would receive a vaccine before rural people and the distance to be traveled to get the vaccine were raised early on by members of the SRPC. (Story continues below)
Listen to the full conversation with Woollam and Shaun Haney, the story continues below the reader:
Many rural populations have higher disease rates and lower economic status, Woollam adds, and the pandemic has exacerbated those effects.
Initially, the pandemic focused on cities for the simple reunification of the population, but there are certainly situations in rural Canada where people live in close living conditions, in households or in nursing homes. long duration.
As for vaccine deployment, the comparison between rural and urban access is difficult to compare, says Woollam, because each province and territory has its own program.
Better transportation methods to distribute the vaccine to people, instead of having people travel to get their first or second dose, is a hope, Woollam says.
The pandemic has highlighted another need of rural communities: better access to telehealth and virtual services. There are serious limitations in access to technology and adequate broadband, Woollam says – a concern that comes up whenever the SRPC gets the chance.
Broadband and connectivity are also a concern shared by rural communities in the United States, said Alan Morgan, CEO of the United States-based National Rural Health Association, in a recent episode of AgriTalk, invited by Haney.
The shared experience ends there, however; Rural communities have been hit hard in the United States – death rates were 48% higher in rural communities than in urban areas.
“It’s an older population, a higher percentage of older people, that lives in these small towns and by population you have people with multiple co-morbidities – obesity, diabetes, hypertension,” Morgan said. In small towns in the United States, there was a reluctance to wear a mask and respect physical distance.
Morgan says the vaccine rollout in the United States has been mixed: there are fewer professionals who can administer the vaccine in these rural areas, problems with distribution, and higher rates of vaccine reluctance.
Like all provincial and territorial issues facing rural communities in Canada, rural deployment issues in states have been compounded by the fact that there are 50 states, all with their own plans.