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Health Care Workers flee small towns that need them the most due to GOP masking denial.

3 min read

The Trump crazies are now, metaphorically speaking, slitting their own throats as uncontrolled Covid infections rage through their communities. These simpletons have turned their very lives over to an incompetent, impotent, and illegitimate buffoon and his administration along with Fox News and the GOP.

NPR’s All Things Considered radio show has exposed this anti-science phenomenon as a sad and pathetic death blow to these people's lives as they harangue health-care workers at the grocery store, church, and by their neighbors. Some workers have been shunned, and many of them are leaving the health care field and relocating as a result. And what did these health care workers do to deserve their friend's vitriol, wrath, and fury? They encourage mask-wearing to prevent illness and death in the very same people that shame and humiliate them. 

Though mask denial is a nationwide curse, it is not just rural America. More populated areas have resources not available to small-town America. 

Ten years ago, Dr. Kristina Darnauer and her husband, Jeff, moved to tiny Sterling, Kan., to raise their kids steeped in small-town values.

“The values of hard work, the value of community, taking care of your neighbor, that's what small towns shout from the rooftops, this is what we're good at. We are salt of the earth people who care about each other,” Darnauer says. “And here I am saying, then wear a mask because that protects your precious neighbor.”

But Darnauer's medical advice and moral admonition were met with contempt from some of her friends, neighbors, and patients. People who had routinely buttonholed her for quick medical advice at church and kids' ballgames were suddenly treating her as the enemy and regarding her professional opinion as suspect and offensive.

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The pushback was too much. Darnauer resigned from her position as Rice County medical director in July. Some friends reached out to support her, and her bonds with other local health care professionals strengthened. Still, she felt disrespected and betrayed by the ascendant anti-mask portion of the community. Darnauer says the pandemic has exposed a rift that won't be forgotten.

More than a quarter of all the public health administrators in Kansas quit, retired or got fired this year, according to Vicki Collie-Akers, an associate professor of population health at the University of Kansas. Some of them got death threats. Some had to hire armed guards.

“These are leaders in their community,” Collie-Akers says. “And they are leaving broken.” Collie-Akers notes these professionals also leaving at a terrible time. The pandemic is still raging. Vaccines still need to get from cities to small towns and into people's arms; public health officers are as important as ever.

And who, she asks, is going to take the jobs health care directors are leaving?

“It's not a secret that the position is open because of extreme tension between the health department director and the city commissioner, county commission, or because the person has required a guard,” Collie-Akers says.

Rural hospitals and health centers have been reeling from a lack of resources for a long time. And let’s face it, health care workers are not and will not be knocking on the door for an interview or employment in a town that adds even more stress and anxiety in their lives.

Alan Morgan, the chief executive officer of the National Rural Health Association, is quoted — “In community after community, after community, all I hear about is workforce, workforce, workforce losing clinical staff, trying to attract clinical staff into these communities. It is taking up the full time of our members right now.”

Hospitals also tend to be among the largest employers in these small towns, and employee losses will add even more misery to a desperate situation.

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