Webinar Addresses Rural Burden of COPD

 Published: March 20, 2019

By: Heather Willden


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A new webinar from the National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services (NACRHHS) is a must-watch event for RTs who work with COPD patients in rural parts of the country.

The 60-minute program features presentations from four leading public health advocates. AARC member Grace Anne Dorney Koppel, MA, JD, president of the Dorney-Koppel Foundation, joins Former Mississippi Governor Ronnie Musgrove, JD, committee chair for the NACRHHS; Tony Punturieri, MD, PhD, program director of the division of lung diseases at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; and Kathleen Dalton, PhD, retired research faculty in the department of health policy and administration at the University of North Carolina in the session.

Disparities and recommendations

Part of the program takes a closer look at existing rural-urban disparities in COPD outcomes, including a doubling of COPD diagnoses and death rates in the rural setting compared with the urban setting, and the lack of pulmonary rehabilitation programs in rural areas.

Three policy recommendations that grew out of a recent meeting of the NACRHHS which focused in part on COPD are covered as well. The recommendations deal with education, payment, and staffing and workforce issues, and have been made to the Department of Health and Human Services.

The speakers also highlight the COPD National Action Plan and its goals to improve care for patients across the board.

Patient perspective

As a COPD patient herself, Dorney Koppel offers the patient’s perspective on living with the disease, with an emphasis on the role pulmonary rehabilitation has played in helping her cope with the condition.

“The only reason that I am living 18 years after a diagnosis, when I was expected to be dead within five years, is that I received a prescription from my doctor for pulmonary rehabilitation, an evidence-based program recommended by every professional society and part of the standard of care for people with COPD,” said Dorney Koppel in the session.

The Dorney-Koppel Foundation supports 12 rural PR programs around the country, and Dr. Dalton shares a comment from one patient who has benefited.

“Another patient we heard from spoke quite passionately about her life-changing experience with pulmonary rehab,” she said. “In her own words, ‘It’s the best decision I’ve ever made. The program focuses on what each individual can accomplish, and there’s one-on-one attention from the respiratory therapists. They take good care of you.’ She ended by saying that, ‘The pulmonary rehab gave people with COPD, like me, some hope.’”

Tune in for more

Tune in to this informative webinar to hear more from Dorney Koppel and the other members of the panel about the challenges and opportunities that exist in COPD care in the rural community.

The National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services is a federally chartered independent citizens’ panel charged with advising the Secretary of HHS on the health care challenges facing Americans in rural areas. The 21-member group was founded in the late 1980s in response to a large number of rural hospital closures.

Email newsroom@aarc.org with questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you.

Heather Willden

Heather Willden is the Director of Governance and Strategic Initiatives for the AARC where she works with state affiliates as the HOD liaison. She also manages DEI efforts and strategic initiatives. Connect with her about these topics by email, AARConnect or LinkedIn. When she's not working, you can find her podcasting with her husband, exploring new hiking trails, photographing, and spending time with her family.

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