DES MOINES, Iowa — Rural healthcare is in crisis in Iowa. That’s why Dr. Rick Sidwell decided to drive his tractor 20 miles to Story County Medical Center to raise awareness.

Dr. Sidwell said that the odds of dying from a medical emergency are much higher in rural areas which is something he wants to change.

“Just put bluntly if you are injured in a rural area you have a 50% higher likelihood of dying than if you are injured in an urban area and it has everything to do with time and distance and today weather-related challenges to be able to get to the ultimate care that you need,” Dr. Sidwell said.

Dr. Sidwell is a trauma surgeon for Unitypoint Health in Des Moines. But even though he works in the city he identifies with the rural crowd.

“My heart is outside the city, it’s in rural areas these are my friends these are my people and this is really my professional mission is to improve the trauma care the injury care that we can provide in rural areas,” Dr. Sidwell said.

Dr. Sidwell said that part of the solution to bridging the gap between urban and rural healthcare is building stronger relationships between rural and urban medical facilities.

“The people who work in urban areas and the people who work in rural areas…we can strengthen that relationship to help allow the best care possible and then minimize the time it takes to get people to the high level of care if they need it,” Dr. Sidwell said.