Health in the Delta Shows Promise, But Needs are Still Great
It was Health Awareness Day in Mississippi, as the HOPE team began our visits to several of the health programs administered by the Delta Health Alliance.
It is appropriate that it was Health Awareness Day in Mississippi, as the HOPE team began our visits to several of the health programs administered by the Delta Health Alliance (DHA.)
Our day started out at the DHA eICU Center at University of Mississippi Health Care. And, what a start to the day it was! The eICU Center uses seasoned intensive care unit nurses to monitor ICU patients in hospitals miles away with the help of a sophisticated computer system and two-way audio and video cameras.
Nora Goodson, a registered nurse with more than 20 years of experience, is one of the 16 nurses who work at the Center. At her post, surrounded by six computer monitors, she helps care for up to 30 patients, even though she is miles away from the nearest hospital. She can track a patient’s vital signs, view x-rays, review laboratory results and communicate with the on-site nurses while at her station in Jackson.
Just open a year, the eICU Center is showing promising results with reductions in mortality rates and shorter hospital stays. With support of the DHA, plans are underway to expand the program in the Mississippi Delta in the next couple of months.
From this example of innovative clinical care, we next visited an example of community-based care now making an impact on health in the Delta. The Delta Pharmacy Patient Care Management Services program is dedicated to lowering the high rate of diabetes and hypertension in this region of Mississippi through patient education. The program in Yazoo City is using community clinics and pharmacies as locations for the review of patient histories, medication adherence and serves as a resource to educate patients on illnesses and lifestyle changes they can make to live healthier lives.
There I met Bianca Martin, the young mother of 3-month-old Robert. Since hypertension was a pressing issue for her, she was grateful for the health education and awareness that will help her and her baby live healthier lives.
Later, we traveled to a DHA 21st Century Clinic in Belzoni, where community health workers are insuring patients adhere to their treatment protocols and understand their medication needs with both in-clinic patient education programs and home visits.
At every location we visited, we witnessed dedicated medical professionals using innovative programs to not only treat patients, but to help prevent the high rates of chronic disease that often go untreated in the Delta.
With all this progress, there is still great need. Mississippi is the fourth most rural state in the country, with the Mississippi Delta region ranking among the poorest areas nationwide. The needs include more medications and equipment, more medical professionals and more health outreach programs to reach the men, women and children living in remote areas of the Delta.