Ky Jan home healthIn 1975, I joined a team of educators at the University of Kentucky who were engaged in a very unique form of health science education (See Connelly, Assell & Peck below for further details). We gathered students from across the spectrum of health professions and, along with a faculty member as sponsor, had them live in a rural, Kentucky town during the month of January. Hence the name of the experience: Kentucky January.

The purpose of the three week experience was to allow the students to become more familiar with the health disciplines that were on the team and to study the health care system as it manifested in a rural community. Our premise was that students rarely got to explore all aspects of a community and plot out how they integrated into an efficient or inefficient system.

Our students explored the local hospital from surgery to midnight rounds with the janitor. We visited the coroner, funeral homes, physician and dentist offices, city hall, county health department, local businesses and factories. Since many of our teams were in Appalachian towns, they went down into coal mines and sought out the local moonshiner.

The highlight of every team was travelling with the visiting nurses of the home health agency to remote homesteads in the rugged hills. This is where the students got to meet real people on the fringes of the system and gain an understanding of where the system worked and where people fell through the cracks.

Two weeks ago, I mentioned that my wife, Dianne, was in the hospital with pneumonia. She is home now and recovering but weakened after two weeks in the hospital and the residual effects of pneumonia. Before discharge her physicians suggested a rehabilitation facility for a while as she needed time and assistance for recovery. Dianne had had it with institutions and wanted to get home. So, enter the modern home health agency in a Texas rural area not unlike Appalachia.

This week we have had two visits from a nurse and two visits from the physical therapist. Both have been extremely helpful and of significant benefit.

Home health is a care option that deserves consideration.


Connelly, T, Assell, P and Peck, P. Interdisciplinary education for health science students in the rural home health agency: Kentucky January. Public Health Reports, 1975, Jul-Aug, 90(4), 325–330.

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