Healing in the Hills

Series Explores Health Care Challenges and Options for Rural Elderly

Broadcast date(s): Begins at 9 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 26, on Outlook on West Virginia PBS

Morgantown, W.Va. – January 25, 2006West Virginia’s rural senior citizens face many challenges when it comes to getting health care. These challenges are mounting today as West Virginia’s rural health care system tries to care for an increasing number of uninsured people in the face of rising costs and looming federal and state Medicaid cutbacks. 

West Virginia Public Broadcasting -- in collaboration with the Mountain State Geriatric Education Center (MSGEC) and the WVSeniors project, programs of the West Virginia University Center on Aging -- will explore these and other issues during the coming months on “Healing in the Hills,” an original series of television reports specifically addressing rural seniors.

“Our team of producers will examine the culture of rural West Virginia … the values, the faith, the lifestyles, the isolation … and how those impact health care,” said Suzanne Higgins, executive producer of the project. “Rural seniors will tell their stories. We’ll hear their challenges. And we’ll look for how these challenges are being addressed at all levels.”

The first story, “History of Rural Health Care in West Virginia (1870-present),” will air on Thursday during Outlook at 9 p.m. on West Virginia PBS. Outlook is also rebroadcast Sunday at noon. In some areas of the state, Outlook may also be seen Fridays at 10 a.m. on West Virginia PBS2. In addition, selected segments will also be aired on upcoming broadcasts of West Virginia Public Radio’s monthly program Aging with Grace and Dignity which airs the first Tuesday of each month at 3 p.m. and 9 p.m.

“Providing West Virginia’s older citizens with access to quality health care is one of the major challenges we face as a state, and as family members,” said Robert M. D’Alessandri, M.D., vice president for health sciences at the WVU Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center. “This series will help all of us understand the issues facing us, and help us begin to take action. West Virginia Public Broadcasting has shown again that they are willing to take on important issues and contribute to the search for solutions.”

Subsequent stories will include the challenges and opportunities of recruiting and retaining medical practitioners; the special nature of the rural physician-patient relationship; the communications barriers between older rural patients and their younger urban physicians; and the role of spirituality and “alternative medicine” in our state’s culture. A list of show topics is available online at www.wvpubcast.org/events/aging/ruralhealth.  

“Healing in the Hills,” is part of West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s ongoing project Aging with Grace and Dignity that explores trends, events, issues and policies supporting the vitality of West Virginia’s older adults and their families.

West Virginia Public Broadcasting advances education, culture and citizenship through high-quality programming and services. West Virginia Public Radio, West Virginia PBS, wvpubcast.org and Ready To Learn® are all services of West Virginia Public Broadcasting.

The MSGEC, funded through a federal grant, was established to improve the training of health professionals in geriatrics and develop and disseminate health information, train faculty and support continuing education for health professionals who provide geriatric care. The WVSeniors Project was established to expand and create outreach efforts using a website WVSeniors.org, and other technology means to educate the elderly, their families, caregivers and local communities about aging well in West Virginia, funded through a grant from the CW Benedum Foundation. The MSGEC and the WVSeniors projects are part of the WVU Center on Aging who works through research, education, clinical service and technology to improve the health, well being and security of older people and those who care for them in WV and across the nation.

- WVU -

For more information:
Maria Durbin, 304-293-2968

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