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Technology-enabled Public Libraries Can Help Improve the Quality of Life of the Rural Elderly

September 29, 2014 Comments off

Technology-enabled Public Libraries Can Help Improve the Quality of Life of the Rural Elderly
Source: World Bank

Over the past 40 years, China’s population has been aging at a rate that took more than 100 years in developed countries. In 2010, the number of people over 60 years old reached 178 million in China, accounting for almost a quarter of the world’s total. Many older citizens in China’s rural areas have found themselves increasingly isolated as their younger relatives migrated to the cities. Few older citizens in rural areas use the Internet. But advances in connectivity, including rapidly improving Internet services in rural areas, offer opportunities for greater development and participation in society of the rural elderly.

The World Bank in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has been supporting Chinese government’s efforts to improve access to information and communication technologies (ICT) and related services for enhancing the lives of rural residents. As a part of the initiative, a study was recently undertaken to assess the potential of enhancing ICT usage among older people in China and examine the feasibility of leveraging public libraries and library-like institutions to serve as venues to foster digital and social inclusion of senior citizens and improve their well-being. Findings from the report were compiled into a report entitled Fostering a digitally inclusive aging society in China: the potential of public libraries.

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Rural Employment Trends in Recession and Recovery

August 26, 2014 Comments off

Rural Employment Trends in Recession and Recovery
Source: USDA Economic Research Service

This report examines the effects of the recent major recession, and gradual recovery, on employment and unemployment trends, with an emphasis on rural America.

Labor Force Characteristics by Race and Ethnicity, 2013

August 21, 2014 Comments off

Labor Force Characteristics by Race and Ethnicity, 2013 (PDF)
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

In 2013, the overall unemployment rate for the United States was 7.4 percent; however, the rate varied across race and ethnicity groups. The rates were highest for Blacks (13.1 percent) and for American Indians and Alaska Natives (12.8 percent) and lowest for Asians (5.2 percent) and for Whites (6.5 percent). The jobless rate was 9.1 percent for Hispanics, 10.2 percent for Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders, and 11.0 percent for people of Two or More Races.

Labor market differences among the race and ethnicity groups are associated with many factors, not all of which are measurable. These factors include variations across the groups in educational attainment; the occupations and industries in which the groups work; the geographic areas of the country in which the groups are concentrated, including whether they tend to reside in urban or rural settings; and the degree of discrimination encountered in the workplace.

Rural Residents Who Are Hospitalized in Rural and Urban Hospitals: United States, 2010

August 6, 2014 Comments off

Rural Residents Who Are Hospitalized in Rural and Urban Hospitals: United States, 2010
Source: National Center for Health Statistics

Key findings
Data from the National Hospital Discharge Survey, 2010

  • Sixty percent of the 6.1 million rural residents who were hospitalized in 2010 went to rural hospitals; the remaining 40% went to urban hospitals.
  • Rural residents who remained in rural areas for their hospitalization were more likely to be older and on Medicare compared with those who went to urban areas.
  • Almost three-quarters of rural residents who traveled to urban areas received surgical or nonsurgical procedures during their hospitalization (74%), compared with only 38% of rural residents who were hospitalized in rural hospitals.
  • More than 80% of rural residents who were discharged from urban hospitals had routine discharges (81%), generally to their homes, compared with 63% of rural residents discharged from rural hospitals.

Integrating Primary Care Practices and Community-based Resources to Manage Obesity: A Bridge-building Toolkit for Rural Primary Care Practices

July 1, 2014 Comments off

Integrating Primary Care Practices and Community-based Resources to Manage Obesity: A Bridge-building Toolkit for Rural Primary Care Practices
Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

Managing and treating obesity is particularly challenging for primary care practices. Although evidence suggests the potential for improving eating and physical activity behaviors by effectively linking primary care practices and community resources, establishing such linkages may be especially challenging in rural areas, where limited availability of and access to services may compound standard barriers.

In 2010 the Oregon Rural Practice-based Research Network (ORPRN) received funding from the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality for research into “Integrated Primary Care Practices and Community-based Programs to Manage Obesity.” Over a 2-year period we worked with eight primary care practices and community-based health coalitions in four rural Oregon communities to:

  1. Evaluate local clinic and community factors necessary to develop sustainable linkages between primary care and community resources for obesity management.
  2. Design, implement, and evaluate a participatory process using practice facilitation and community-health development principles to achieve these linkages.

We used the findings from this 2-year process to develop this toolkit to help other primary care clinics that want to improve linkages with community-based resources for obesity management. This process highlights strategies to build on the ties that often already exist in rural areas. Although our process is tailored to rural settings, we anticipate that many of the strategies will be beneficial for urban practices and communities to consider. This toolkit offers key steps in our process, providing tools and recommended steps that we encourage you to adapt to fit your local setting.

Reconnecting Small-Town America by Bus: New Federal Transit Rules Spur Investment

May 26, 2014 Comments off

Reconnecting Small-Town America by Bus: New Federal Transit Rules Spur Investment
Source: AARP Research

Millions of rural residents have lost access to scheduled intercity bus service in recent years as the nation’s largest private carriers have focused on profitable, longer-haul interstate travel. This video and Spotlight on the Issues illustrates how one state has created a successful public–private initiative to restore service to its rural communities. What Washington State has accomplished serves as a model for other states looking to take advantage of alternative local match requirements.

Audit of VHA’s Mobile Medical Units

May 16, 2014 Comments off

Audit of VHA’s Mobile Medical Units
Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General

At the request of the House Committee on Appropriations, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) conducted a review of VA’s use of Mobile Medical Units (MMUs) to assess whether the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is fully utilizing MMUs to provide health care access to veterans in rural areas. We found that VHA lacks information about the operations of its MMUs and has not collected sufficient data to determine whether MMUs improved rural veterans’ health care access. VHA lacks information on the number, locations, purpose, patient workloads, and MMU operating costs. We determined VHA operated at least 47 MMUs in fiscal year 2013. Of these, 19 were funded by the Office of Rural Health (ORH) and the remaining 28 were funded by either a Veterans Integrated Service Network or medical facility. Medical facilities captured utilization and cost data in VHA’s Decision Support System (DSS) for only 6 of the estimated 47 MMUs. If VHA consistently captured these data, it could compare MMU utilization and costs with other health care delivery approaches to ensure MMUs are providing efficient health care access to veterans in rural areas. These weaknesses occurred because VHA did not designate specific program responsibility for MMU management, define a clear purpose for its MMUs, or establish policies and guidance for effective and efficient MMU operations. As a result of limited MMU data, we were unable to fully address the committee’s concerns. However, it is apparent that VHA cannot demonstrate whether the almost $29 million ORH spent, as well as unknown medical facility funding for MMUs, increased rural veterans’ health care access and the extent to which MMUs can be mobilized to support its emergency preparedness mission. We recommended the Under Secretary for Health improve the oversight of MMUs by assessing their effect on rural veterans’ health care access, establishing specific program responsibilities, policies, and guidance, including requirements to capture MMU data in DSS, and supporting emergency preparedness plans. The Under Secretary for Health concurred with our recommendations and provided an acceptable action plan. We will follow up on the implementation of the corrective actions.

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