Closing the Gap, Illinois Takes on Healthcare Deserts

Estimated read time 5 min read

Illinois is tackling a big problem that affects many Americans, some places don’t have enough healthcare services. These ‘healthcare deserts’ don’t have the medical facilities people need. Tiny Toulon in Stark County used to be one of these places without a hospital or clinic. But things are changing, thanks to new ideas and people working together.


Toulon Steps Up

Last December, Toulon made progress in fighting healthcare deserts. They opened a health department office with the help of the Henry and Stark County Health Department, local leaders, and businesspeople. This joint effort has started to make things better.

Stark County used to be a place with very few healthcare services. But now, it’s not anymore. RaeAnn Tucker, who works at the Henry and Stark County Health Department, talks about how health departments can help solve these problems in rural places. They’re going to show off how they fund the Toulon facility during Public Health Week in April 2024. The Illinois Department of Public Health thinks this could really help other places with the same issues.


Understanding Healthcare Deserts

The term “healthcare desert” refers to regions where quality healthcare services are scarce or nonexistent, significantly impacting residents’ health and wellbeing. GoodRX research indicates that 121 million Americans live in such areas, with 80 percent o

In the U.S., some counties are seen as healthcare wastelands because it’s tough to find pharmacies, primary care doctors, hospitals, trauma centers, and affordable medical care. When people can’t get to these services, they often go without treatment, their long-term health problems get worse, and they might not live as long.


The Many Sides of the Issue

The reasons behind unequal healthcare include several factors:

Geographic Hurdles, County side areas might not have the right setup for medical buildings, and in the city, you might only find clinics in certain spots.

Financial Roadblocks, If the cost is too high or folks don’t have insurance, families with less money won’t get the medical help they need.

Lack of Doctors, it’s even harder when there are not enough medical professionals in places that are both rural and not well-off.

Trouble with Travel, when buses and trains don’t go where the hospitals are, it’s particularly tough for those already struggling to get the care they need.


Current Stats on the Problem

Four in ten counties have no nearby pharmacies. Nearly one in ten have no primary healthcare. A fifth of them don’t have hospitals close by. Forty percent lack nearby trauma centers. Almost half are seen as places with scarce affordable healthcare options.

Next Steps, Tackling the Problem:  To fight against healthcare deserts, we need a plan that tackles it from all angles. This means using tech like video doctor visits, changing policies, getting communities involved, and shaking up how the system works. What’s happening in Toulon, Illinois, and the actions taken by Governor Pritzker across the state show important moves toward making sure everyone in Illinois can get to a doctor or hospital, no matter where they live or how much money they make. With these changes, Illinois is leading the way for other states that are trying to deal with not having enough healthcare in certain areas. They are making strides toward a future, ensuring everyone can get healthcare fairly is our goal.

Fair access to healthcare means that no matter who you are or where you live, you can use health services. This includes getting the care needed without facing financial hardship. It’s about providing the same quality of care for everyone, making sure people don’t suffer because they can’t pay.

There’s a big problem, though, not everyone can get healthcare. Many factors contribute to this issue, like income level, location, and social status. These things shouldn’t matter, but they do, and they prevent some folks from getting the care they need.

We’ve got to change things – and fast. We need to tear down those barriers that keep people from healthcare. We’re talking about ensuring sufficient funding, creating policies that help everyone, and investing in resources where they’re badly needed. It’s about getting hands-on and doing whatever it takes to fix these issues.

Technology’s another piece of the puzzle. With telemedicine and mobile health apps, we can bring healthcare to even the most remote places. Education matters too. we need to teach people how to stay healthy and prevent diseases from happening in the first place.

But let’s be real, it won’t be easy. Ensuring equitable healthcare takes commitment from governments, organizations, and people themselves. Everyone’s got to chip in, working together toward a system that works for everybody.

In conclusion

We all want to live long and prosper, right? But without fair access to healthcare, that dream won’t become a reality for many. It’s time to kick into gear and make changes, ensuring health for all isn’t just a pipe dream but a reality we can reach.

Celina Brooks

Celina Brooks from Mussoorie is a Writer & Researcher. She earned her Engineering degree in IT from Rutgers University. She is a technology enthusiast but loves writing and talking about local news as well. She is a jolly person with 2 children.

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