Medically underserved

County tagged with health shortage designation

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Moffat County has been given a new designation that could help remedy shortcomings in area health care delivery to low-income and uninsured residents, according to the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association.

On Thursday, the VNA announced the Bureau of Primary Health Care had designated Moffat County, including the city of Craig, as a Health Professional Shortage Area. The western portion of the county previously was listed as a shortage area, but "due to an overall lack of health care providers," the county's eastern portion was added.

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"Receiving the HPSA designation will help with recruitment and retention of health care providers, who will provide health care services to low-income and uninsured residents in Moffat County," the VNA reported in the news release issued Thursday. "There are approximately 3,900 residents below 200 percent of the federal poverty level in Moffat County."

The VNA listed the following health disparities in Moffat County as examples of the area needing improved health care:

  • Low birth weight rate 11.8 percent higher than state average.
  • Perinatal death rate 12.5 percent higher than state average.
  • Child death rate 43 percent higher than state average.
  • Death due to cardiovascular disease 23 percent higher than state average.
  • Death due to chronic respiratory disease 33 percent higher than the state average.

"Those are some of the indicators of a lack of access to health care," VNA public relations coordinator Suzi Mariano said.

The HPSA designation is specific to the low-income population and acknowledges "a severe lack of primary care physicians providing care to low-income, Medicaid and uninsured residents," according to the VNA.

"Many low-income and uninsured residents in Moffat County report that they use the emergency room for primary care or go without care altogether," the VNA reported.

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