West Texas Talk:
The Healthcare Crisis in Rural TX; Poet Martha Collins

In 2018, Texas had about 54 primary care physicians per 100,000 people—one of the lowest ratios in the country. (Rolando Hernandez/Texas Observer)

Reporters
Sally Beauvais & Christopher Collins

Over the last several decades, access to healthcare for rural Texans has become fewer and farther between. Dwindling patient loads and low reimbursement rates from Medicaid and Medicare have taken their toll on practices and hospitals. That’s led to closures across the state, forcing residents of far-flung places to travel further for adequate healthcare. 

Diana Nguyen talks to Christopher Collins and Sally Beauvais about why this is happening and what can be done about the problem.

Christopher Collins recently co-reported Critical Condition — a Texas Observer investigative series that highlights the stories of rural Texans without access to care.

Sally Beauvais reports on rural issues for Marfa Public Radio. She’s covered the challenges of accessing healthcare for seniors in the Big Bend. She recently reported on the problems that arise for Presidio County residents when the ambulance cant find their house in an emergency.

In this conversation, Collins provides a birds-eye view of what’s happening with rural healthcare across the state and Beauvais provides a picture of the local healthcare landscape in the Big Bend.


Because What Else Could I Do is Collins’ tenth book of poetry. (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2019)

Martha Collins

Later in the show, Rachel Monroe talks to poet, translator and editor Martha Collins. She’s in Marfa as a Lannan writer-in-residence.

Collins is the recipient of three Pushcart Prizes and has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ingram Merrill Foundation, the Bunting Institute, among others. She is the founder of the creative writing program at the University of Massachusetts at Boston, and a professor emerita at Oberlin College.

Collins recently published Because What Else Could I Do. Her tenth book is a sequence of poems addressed to her husband during the six months following his sudden death.

Monroe and Collins discuss Blue Front, White Papers and Admit One: An American Scrapbook — a trilogy of books where Collins examines aspects of her family history as a lens into racism in America.

About Diana Nguyen

Diana Nguyen hosts and produces the interview program West Texas Talk. Her work explores the stories and forces that shape the people and places of Far West Texas.
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West Texas Talk is broadcast Thursdays at 6:00 PM and Fridays at 9:00 PM.
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