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Editorial: Move ahead on rural care recommendations 


The Telegraph
November 22, 2012

Rural health care in Illinois has been a troublesome commodity seemingly forever.

Residents in the hinterlands have so few health care options that they sometimes are forced to drive miles for services that urban dwellers take for granted.

And the services that are available sometimes take too long to get to (hospitals) or to respond (ambulances). Time is a factor that frequently spells life or death in critical care cases.

So, we take note today of suggested improvements. They are courtesy of Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon and several state leaders who have been studying the issues for months and have come up with what appear to be some pretty good recommendations to improve the quality of health care for those living in the countryside.

Simon, Republican state Rep. Don Moffitt of Gilson and Democratic state Rep. Lisa Dugan of Bradley announced the recommendations on Tuesday in Springfield. The recommendations come out of the Illinois House’s Emergency Medical Services Task Force.

The panel made the recommendations this week after 17 hearings throughout the state.

Among the ideas:

  • Allow emergency medical providers to complete more training online. That would improve their work in the field during sometimes long travel between response scenes and hospitals.
  • Simplify ambulance licensing, to encourage more such operations or continued use of current ones. Rather than renewing licenses annually, if implemented, providers could obtain licenses lasting two to four years, contingent on annual state inspections.
  • Implement new federal EMS educational standards so that emergency medical technicians who have obtained licenses in Illinois are able to use them in other states.

In general, the ideas focus on making it easier to operate emergency services, without giving up on the necessary requirements of safety.

We applaud this grass-roots effort, which listened to concerns of those in the field and came up with ideas that now will be up to legislators and others to act upon.

When some people must travel up to 30 miles simply to reach basic hospitals, there is an overriding issue of concern that must be addressed. We say, move forward appropriately.