Country Doctors

IMG_20150518_101152_smallThe Mississippi Delta does not rank very highly in a lot of things.  Those include health care outcomes.  Rates of obesity, diabetes, and cancer are very bad around here.   The same goes for life expectancy.  There are many causes of which poverty is likely nearthe top.  However the agricultural chemicals farmer use probably don’t help.

Ironically, medical care is somewhat more accessible to those who live here.   Both Cleveland, as well as Ruleville to the east, have several medical clinics which are open to all.   The Sunflower Clinic, for example, is open from 8am to Midnight 7 days a week.  I’ve taken advantage of it several times.  Back home, going to the doctor means making an appointment and taking time off of work because most physicians are only open regular business hours.   In New York, most doctor’s work in private practices and there is only so much work one person can do. We do have a few clinics of our own in Rockland County, but not as many considering the higher population.

Getting medical tests is somewhat more convenient as well.   The reason is the Cleveland Medical Mall (pictured below).

Cleveland Medical Mall East Side Cleveland Medical Mall West Side

Located on the east side of town, the Medical Mall houses numerous doctors (including mine) covering various specialties.  There is an x-ray lab, a blood work lab, and a pharmacy.  Back home all of those facilities are separate often requiring multiple visits over several days. Cleveland’s isolated location means that everything is clustered around one small area.  So there are perks to living here.

But let’s be real.   The Cleveland Medical Mall is convenient because I have the money, and a good enough health insurance plan, to afford the doctors there.  Many folks aren’t so lucky.   The downside of clinics such as the Sunflower Clinic is the quality of care.  Having a primary care physician means I will see the same person for every visit.   Someone who has to rely on a clinic doesn’t have that luxury.  I can personally attest to that.  Depending on the ailment you might get an experienced Physicians Assistant or a nurse.  It was the same way in college.

But even having a personal physician is not a guarantee of high quality.  Sometimes my doctor is so busy he’ll leave you waiting for an hour in the exam room.  Personally I’ve had nothing but good experiences, being healthy overall.  Its hard to truly judge how good medical care is around here.  And I’m not sure I want to be in a position to do so.


It really pays to look below the surface when living around the Delta.   Life here is good for some.  Most aren’t so lucky.   The more I live in Cleveland the more I see the walls of the bubble surrounding my life.  Working at Delta State means having the privilege to have a private physician, in a nice facility, and the ability to take time off to see him.  If I am hospitalized, the bills will be manageable and that same doctor can continue to provide care.   Many folks probably don’t have that luxury.  The Affordable Care Act may have helped some, but last I checked few health insurance companies were offering there services around here.

So not everyone experiences life in the Delta equally.  For those of us living in the Delta State community its easy to forget that we are the lucky few with the money and the good jobs.  There is a lot more to this area than that.  I hate having to be so vague, but living in the aforementioned bubble means there are somethings I don’t see much of.  Perhaps in the future other opportunities will present themselves to understand life on the other side of the tracks.


Article by Mike

Mike is the Head of Discovery Services for the Delta State University Library. He has lived in Cleveland since May 2013.

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