About one third of counties in Wisconsin don’t have a practicing obstetrician-gynecologist. Nationwide, it’s closer to half of all counties. And hospitals in rural communities across the country are closing labor and delivery units. This means longer travel times for prenatal care or delivery for pregnant patients. It also means basic, everyday obgyn services like contraceptive care or cancer screenings are harder to access. In this episode of the Women’s Healthcast, I talked to Dr. Ellen Hartenbach from the UW-Madison Department of Ob-Gyn to learn about the scale of this crisis in Wisconsin and beyond, and what our department is doing to help.
We also learn what motivates someone to pursue rural practice and the special skills rural physicians need to take great care of their patients from Dr. Laura McDowell, UW Ob-Gyn resident and the first physician in the country to train on a rural obstetrics and gynecology track.