Brianna Foster, 23, lives minutes away from Genesis Hospital, the main source of health care and the only hospital with maternity services in southeastern Ohio’s rural Muskingum County.
Proximity proved potentially lifesaving last fall when Foster, pregnant with her second child, Holden, felt contractions at 31 weeks — about seven weeks too soon. Genesis was equipped to handle the situation — giving Foster medication and an injection to stave off delivery. After his birth four weeks later – still about a month early, at 5 pounds 12 ounces — Holden was sent to the hospital’s special care nursery for monitoring.
Mother and son went home after a few days. “He was pretty small — but he’s picking up weight fast,” said Foster of Holden, now almost 4 months old.
Medicaid, the federal-state health insurance program for low-income people — including Foster, who most recently worked as a preschool teacher’s aide — is responsible for much of her good fortune.
Started in 1965, the program today is part of the financial bedrock of rural hospitals like Genesis. As treatments have become increasingly sophisticated — and expensive — health care has become inextricably linked to Medicaid in rural areas, which are often home to lower-income and more medically needy people.