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Federal employee sees how local hospitals treat patients in rural areas



A federal employee was in La Crosse on Tuesday, learning how health care providers are taking care of patients in rural communities.

Eric Hargan, deputy secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, met with several health agency representatives to watch a presentation of telemedicine, used to remotely examine patients at a more rural clinic.

“There’s a lot of new exciting technology,” Hargan said. “Everything from something as simple as screens and phones, to more sophisticated devices which allow patients to stay near their homes.”

More is still to be done however, given the health results of rural areas compared to urban.

“One out of every six Americans live in rural America,” Hargan said. “We have to find a way to serve them. You have cancer declining slower in rural areas, and higher heart disease rates.”

Gundersen CEO Scott Rathgaber says the federal government can play an important role.

“It takes a partnership with government and health systems to be able to deliver the care we want to bring,” Rathgaber said. “We want to do that without any regulatory barriers.”

The stop was part of a larger tour throughout the Midwest.

Born in Decorah Iowa. I've been a news reporter for the last 10 years, starting right out of college in Fort Dodge, Iowa. Other professional opportunities led me to Marshalltown, Iowa and Antigo Wisconsin, before I finally was afforded the opportunity here in La Crosse. I've been here since 2016. I also act as the voice of local sports, doing play by play of high school and college football and basketball. When not working I enjoy golfing.

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