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Oklahoma's rural doctors face obstacles in providing higher level of care

Drs. Jeff and Melissa Gastorf opened their family practice clinic in Durant because they loved the town and the people, but face challenges urban doctors may not face.
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Published: July 2, 2013
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/articleid/3858109/1/pictures/2148457">Photo - Faye Fullen of Wister, OK, hugs Dr. Dennis Carter at the beginning of an appointment at  Carter's office in Poteau on June 13. Fullen has known  Carter since he was in high school. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman <strong>NATE BILLINGS - NATE BILLINGS</strong>
Faye Fullen of Wister, OK, hugs Dr. Dennis Carter at the beginning of an appointment at Carter's office in Poteau on June 13. Fullen has known Carter since he was in high school. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman NATE BILLINGS - NATE BILLINGS

Durant is home to the Medical Center of Southeastern Oklahoma, which offers specialists the region might not otherwise have close by.

But, it's not enough to meet the demand.

Bryan County has one of the largest shortages in full-time health care employees, according to Oklahoma State University Center for Rural Health. And about 25 percent of residents younger than 64 do not have health insurance.

“Sometimes even if we can get them up to Oklahoma City or Tulsa and get the appointment made, some of our patients don't have a way to get up there,” Melissa Gastorf said. “We end up treating them for as long as we can. There's no other choice.”

— JACLYN COSGROVE, Staff Writer

by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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