Recent research by a Kansas State University geography graduate student determined there is extremely uneven distribution across the state of the essential health care resources, specifically, medical practitioners and health care facilities.
Residents of western or southeastern Kansas are on their own if they get sick in the middle of the night. And, the situation doesn't get better when the sun comes up. A rural resident is likely to drive three hours or more to reach the nearest medical facility. An urban resident likewise will travel hours to the nearest doctor or clinic, albeit by public transportation.
Debarchana "Debs" Ghosh is studying with K-State geography professor Bimal Paul, who is very interested in health-related issues. Using a variety of statistical and geographic tools, she analyzed county-level health care availability data for all 105 Kansas counties in order to derive a health care resource distribution pattern for the state. She presented a poster of the findings for Kansas state legislators in March at the second Graduate Student Research Summit in Topeka.
Ghosh was able to designate "health care resource regions" for the state on the basis of the spatial variation of health resources. She correlated resource availability with population density, distribution of the elderly population in the state, and income and other economic variables.
According to her analysis, three counties -- Sedgwick, Shawnee and Johnson -- are what Ghosh calls "very high health care resource regions." There's a positive correlation between population density, income and health care resource availability.