Family clinic works to bring more access to health care in rural Mo. communities

Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 11:37 AM CDT
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DEXTER, Mo. (KFVS) - Access to health care for the elderly can be hard to come by, but in one Heartland town there is a family practice focused on helping older patients.

For some needing medical help it may be a long drive down the highway and for others it could be just a short ride up the road.

”I feel like transportation is the biggest issue for our geriatric patients,” said Kimberly Essner, physicians assistant at Southeast Health Family Practice Clinic in Dexter.

For patients, like those with limited mobility, getting to the doctor’s office may not be the easiest thing and especially if you are living in rural Missouri.

“It’s just important that they are coming in regularly so that we don’t miss things that become much bigger problems,” said Essner.

Between 2005 and 2015, there was a 14 percent increase in the elderly population living in rural communities leading to a growing demand for health care, that’s according to the Missouri Foundation for Health.

But in Dexter, there is a family practice clinic working to the fight that disparity.

“I get a lot of reward treating these patients,” said Essner.

Essner works with the aging.

“I feel like in a small town you are able to form relationships with your patients outside of the clinic. I see them at church. I see them at ball games and I feel like that gives me a better idea of what’s really going on in their health,” she said.

And Essner said being surrounded by rural communities, she sees the importance in caring for older adults.

“It’s so important. Things can get missed very easily if they feel like they are going to have to drive an hour away then they will tend to let things go and they are more likely if they are just five minutes away from the clinic to run up here and let us check them out,” she said.

Essner said taking a little extra time to help these patients, putting their health first makes her job worth it.

“I feel like they do need a little bit more TLC. I try to make sure that I am very patience and kind with our patients and make sure that they understand what their treatment plan is,” she said.

From Cape Girardeau to Poplar Bluff, Dexter is a middle ground giving geriatric patients the health care access they need.

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