Senator Franken Stops in Northland to Chat Rural Health Care Concerns

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DULUTH, Minn. – Senator Al Franken made a stop in Duluth Saturday morning for a round table discussion, highlighting the many challenges facing rural health care.

Major hurdles the Senator focused on include the need for rural broadband, electronic medical records, better transportation, and more quality health care providers with specialties.

With an ever aging rural population, another barrier to high-quality health care involves a work force shortage.

“We have a huge shortage we estimate we have 1,800 positions open in nursing homes statewide, most of those are in rural Minnesota. So, discussing strategies that we can work on together to get people into careers in long term care was really important,” said Kari Thurlow, an Advocate with LeadingAge Minnesota.

“The number one gap we have in our long term health care system is transportation. We don’t have enough volunteers to drive people to their doctor’s appointments,” said Thurlow.

It’s a question on a lot of people’s minds and one that Senator Franken was forced to address.

How can and will these problems be solved?

“Some of the solutions we are talking about are, loan forgiveness to make sure that people serve in rural areas. Also, to recruit people from rural areas to go to medical school,” explained Senator Franken.

Aside from medical and physical health care needs in the rural area, Thurlow said there is also a demand for mental health needs.

If you missed Saturday’s round table the Senator will be hosting more across the state in the weeks and months to come, as he configures a platform to present in the new Congress.

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