Rural Health Makes Gains in Susquehanna County, Thanks to Natural Gas

George Stark
Director, External Affairs at Cabot Oil & Gas

Rural health care options have expanded in Susquehanna County thanks to the natural gas industry’s contributions and nothing improves like a good economy.

One in five Americans live in rural communities. Many will tell you that they appreciate the closeness to nature and agriculture and knowing who their neighbors are, even if the closest family lives a half mile down a dirt road. But the relative isolation that attracts more than 60 million to live in the country or in small towns also presents a challenge when it comes to having access to specialized medical services and, in emergencies, a good hospital.

Thursday, Nov. 21 is National Rural Health Day. It was established by the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health to highlight accessibility issues, challenges faced by rural healthcare providers, and to champion “the selfless, community-minded, can-do spirit that prevails in rural America.” There are few places where so many have stepped up to not only overcome a dire healthcare scenario but to create a new model for rural American than in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania.

rural health

A study released by the Center of Disease Control (CDC) in 2017 indicated that those residing in rural areas are more likely to die from heart disease, cancer, unintentional injuries, respiratory disease and stroke than their urban counterparts. The report suggests the deaths would have been preventable if adequate health care were more readily available. PEW Research Center data from 2018 shows the average drive time of 11.7 minutes to a hospital for Pennsylvania residents jumps to more than 30 minutes for rural folks. Other factors cited by the CDC include lower incomes and fewer people with health insurance.

“When it comes to a stroke or heart attack, whether or not you are treated in the first hour will impact your quality of health,” said Loren Stone, Endless Mountains Health Systems (EMHS) Chief Executive Officer. Good hospitals are pillars of rural communities, Stone continued. Without them and good education, “you don’t have vibrant rural communities.”

Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation came to the region in 2008 to begin the process of exploration for natural gas in the Marcellus shale that lies under the entire county. In addition to sparking a renaissance in an otherwise sagging economy by providing steady employment in the gas fields and with partner industries, Cabot looked for other ways to connect with and support the community.

Viewing the need for a new hospital as vital for families who were driving almost an hour to Scranton or Binghamton, NY, for primary care, Cabot initiated a Capital Campaign in 2012, putting up $1 million immediately and promising another million as a match for other corporate donations. Cabot’s business partners, subcontractors and suppliers were quick to respond, and the initiative proved to be contagious.

“Cabot brought awareness of the need for the facility and brought in the rest of the community to match in-kind,” Stone recalled. Other regional businesses, foundations and individual members of the Susquehanna County community brought their contributions to the table and, in less than six months, the campaign had exceeded its goals by raising $4.4 million. The success of the campaign even attracted the support of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), which extended a $25 million loan, and eventually the EMHS reached their $35 million needed to complete the project.

The new hospital opened in 2013. Since then, Stone cites numerous ways in which the community is better served, including specialty services and more jobs. “Healthcare providers are also among the largest employers in rural communities which provides an economic benefit,” he remarked.

“Cabot was a significant partner in our facility replacement project,” Stone stated. “If not for their capital campaign, we wouldn’t have been able to build the physicians’ offices on the campus so that they can be co-located to the hospital.”

National Rural Health Day is still a relatively new concept to Stone, but he likes the idea and believes that the EMHS board will adopt it. “We’ll embrace it and celebrate all that it means to be a rural provider of healthcare services,” he stated.

Above reposted, with permission from Well said Cabot.

Editor’s Note: It’s important to also note Susquehanna County health has been improving since the launch of the shale revolution. Although we can’t establish a definitive causal link, it’s undeniable that improved economies produce better health because more citizens have more access to health care and that’s what’s happened in the County with natural gas development. Check out these statistics from the Pennsylvania Department of Health:

rural health

That’s a 26% decline in the age adjusted cancer rate over the decade (males) and a 12% decline in the age adjusted mortality rate. (The female decline in the cancer rate is 4%.)  This is not only exciting news but also puts the lie to the garbage put out by some fractivist junk science outfits funded by the likes of the Heinz Endowments.

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13 thoughts on “Rural Health Makes Gains in Susquehanna County, Thanks to Natural Gas

  1. Hey Vera,

    Where’s your big list of horrible consequences? Tell us again just how bad the environment is is Susquehanna County.

  2. Crozer Chester Community Hospital just finished installing a Sidel SRU Flue Gas Condenser to increase their natural gas energy efficiency and reduce their CO2 emissions.

    Hoping more hospitals and government and large commercial and industrial facilities will look at doing the same thing.

    It’s good for the community and the environment.

  3. I have a bridge to sell to anybody who thinks it’s particularly advantageous, except maybe for a company that doesn’t know how to frac correctly, to have hospital expansions that are purportedly for the benefit of Pennsylvanians, happening within 10 miles of the New York border. As long as we’re not bleeding to death, we can go another 10 or so miles north, to New York, and have UNHUSHED doctors.

  4. Perfectly said, Tom.

    Short distance to three hospitals across in NY …

    And have unhushed doctors is preferred .

    Cabot loves to pat themselves on the back as if they are indispensable…
    Montrose Hospital cost about 48 million and Cabot contributed about 2 million.
    Big deal ..

    And Cabot still gets DEP violations for defective casings as of this year..
    And they are up to about 900 DEP Violations so far for all kinds of violations…

    • Vera,

      Between 1 Jan 2008 and 22 Nov 2019 Cabot facilities in Susquehanna County were inspected 9,774 times, or 2.25 times per day.

      No violations were noted on 9,174 inspections, a rate of 93.1%.

      A total of 477 inspections resulted in a violation, a notice of an existing violation, or a notice of an additional violation.

      Fourteen different companies have drilled in Susquehanna County, yet you persist in blaming Cabot for everything that you think has ever gone wrong.

      You can find the data I used at http://www.depreportingservices.state.pa.us/ReportServer/Pages/ReportViewer.aspx

      And despite your complaints, the medical data shown above clearly does not match your fear-mongering narrative.

      “That’s a 26% decline in the age adjusted cancer rate over the decade and a 12% decline in the age adjusted mortality rate. This is not only exciting news but also puts the lie to the garbage put out by some fractivist junk science outfits funded by the likes of the Heinz Endowments.”

  5. Cabot is violating in two, Pa. Counties which brings the total violations to over 900..
    And Cabot is the biggest violator in my county amongst seven companies..

    And why is Cabot’s stock prices plummeting downward…
    Lowest in years .

    You can keep supporting them since they aren’t next to your home or in your town or county ..

    • You still refuse to recognize the medical data, Vera:

      “That’s a 26% decline in the age adjusted cancer rate over the decade and a 12% decline in the age adjusted mortality rate. This is not only exciting news but also puts the lie to the garbage put out by some fractivist junk science outfits funded by the likes of the Heinz Endowments.”

      I didn’t say I supported Cabot, I own no Cabot stock, and I don’t pay attention to stock prices. I actually looked up some data from the DEP to see what the facts are, and provided a reference. Do you disagree with the numbers? In Susquehanna County, since Jan 2008 Cabot facilities have been inspected nearly 10,000 times, with over a 93% “No violations noted”.

        • Which numbers do you think are cherry-picked?

          Did DEP make up the numbers of inspections?

          Snide remarks and a refusal to discuss based on facts and references provided are what I expect from Vera.

          Provide some credible references and data . . . . you know, like science?

  6. Barry,
    all one needs is one water contamination incident and there were dozens….
    If it was your water well, you might not be so concerned about the rate of violations or inspections.

    and are you quoting stats for cancer rates in Susquehanna County?

  7. Cancer is not the only indicator that there are enviromental impacts.

    Barry can believe whatever he wants to.

    You don’t live in the impacted areas and have no relevance…

    Move next to the compressor stations and gas wells and then give us your glowing report of the wonders of gas.

    The Resistance to polluting extraction and process keeps growing around the world…
    and new inventions continue to be focused on to free us from pollution and toxic industries.

    We will be free of polluting the Earth and life one day.
    Hope you and I can see that and enjoy it.

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