Life in the open countryside isn’t all sunshine and songbirds, as a researcher can testify. Jennifer Gunn speaks tomorrow (Tuesday) night at Iowa State University on topic of women and health in rural Iowa. She says since the 1860s the U.S. has been concerned about the health of rural people who are worn out by work and their hard lives, with an unequal distribution of doctors and healthcare facilities she says has been a “crisis” for more than a century. Doctor Gunn says part of the concern is for the mental health of rural residents, especially women who can be isolated and have few options…one reason her lecture is titled “Why She Becomes Insane So Often.” Gunn’s a professor at the University of Minnesota’s History of Medicine program, and says the benefits of rural life also bring particular hazards. They can suffer from a lack of access to clean water, contaminated food supplies, and she says with a chuckle that you can just ask anyone who lives next to a swine lot what they think of the “rural environment.” Gunn has done a lot of her research on rural healthcare in Iowa, but she says there are many different kinds of rural life.For example she says there are food-processing plants, farming and ranching areas, and “extractive industry” areas, like the coal-mining that was important around the turn of the century around Albia. Gunn’s working on a book on the history of rural medical practice in 20th-century America. Her speech Tuesday is at eight P.M. in the Pioneer Room of ISU’s Memorial Union.
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