School of Medicine publishes Nevada Rural and Frontier Health Data Book 2007

2/21/2007 8:00:00 AM

The School of Medicine has published the 2007 edition of the Nevada Rural and Frontier Health Data Book. The publication offers the most current and comprehensive source of county-level data on health and healthcare in Nevada.

Did you know that 87 percent of Nevada's land mass is made up of rural and frontier counties? Just 10 percent of the state's population lives in those counties. These 268,542 Nevadans go to great lengths travelling to receive healthcare.

Spread out over 95,431 square miles of frontier, the average distance most rural Nevadans must travel to reach one of the sixteen acute care hospitals in rural counties or to reach one of the closest tertiary care hospitals in Reno, Las Vegas or Salt Lake City is 114 miles. These surprising statistics are just a few of the healthcare facts you will find in the 2007 edition of the Nevada Rural and Frontier Health Data Book.

Published bi-annually by the Nevada Office of Rural Health, a program of the Center for Education and Health Services Outreach at the University of Nevada School of Medicine, the data book contains a wide range of current information on population health and the healthcare delivery system in rural and frontier regions of the state.

The data book is designed as a tool for public policy makers, healthcare professionals and administrators, rural healthcare advocates and the residents of rural Nevada. The primary purpose of the publication is to provide the most current and accurate data on rural healthcare to these audiences.

The data presented in the 2007 edition of the Nevada Rural and Frontier Health Data Book spotlight important differences among rural, urban and frontier areas of the state. According to John Packham, Ph.D., co-author of the data book, the premise of the publication is that characteristics distinguishing urban from rural and frontier areas have important impacts on population health, the availability of hospital and other healthcare resources and access to healthcare services.

"The age distribution of a county has a significant influence on the health state and healthcare needs of a population," says Packham, who is director of the Nevada Rural Hospital Flexibility Program within the Office of Rural Health.

"All things being equal, rural counties tend to have an older population," he said. "Older populations are at greater risk of serious illness and death than younger populations and use a larger share of healthcare resources. Important differences in demographics, economics and social characteristics exist between urban, rural, and frontier areas and they produce differences in health priorities, access to care and the delivery of health services."

To highlight these differences within the publication, Packham and co-author Tabor Griswold, health services research analyst for the Office of Rural Health, divided the Nevada Rural and Frontier Health Data Book into the following sections:

  • Demographic characteristics in rural and frontier Nevada, including recent population estimates and projections;
  • The social and economic characteristics of rural and frontier Nevada, including data on income, poverty, and educational attainment;
  • Population health issues and health insurance coverage in rural and frontier Nevada;
  • The healthcare workforce in rural and frontier Nevada, including estimates and projections for many healthcare occupations across the major regions of the state;
  • Hospital and other healthcare resources in rural and frontier Nevada;
  • Economic aspects of healthcare in rural and frontier Nevada including estimates of the income and employment impact of the healthcare sector in each rural and frontier county.

"The need for increased access to care is acute across the state," says Packham. "The data in this publication is compiled to help us make educated policy decisions by looking at trends and statistics."

An important statistic Packham points to is the projected growth for healthcare occupations in both urban and rural areas of the state. While the demand for health occupations in urban areas is expected to exceed that of rural areas, the projected growth in the number of rural healthcare jobs is anticipated to grow by nearly 50 percent from the 7,737 jobs in 2004 to 11,208 jobs in 2014.


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