[imgcontainer right] [img:06044_06.jpg.crop_display.jpeg] A waiting room at the Phelps Medical Plaza in Holdredge, Nebraska, one of the top rural critical care hospitals in the country. [/imgcontainer]

The National Rural Health Association has announced the highest ranked critical access hospitals in the country. There are 59 of these rural hospitals and you can see the full list here

Actually, there are three lists, based on three different criteria. The first index concerns financial stability. The hospitals on this list range from the Banner Lassen Medical Center in Susanville, California, to the Bath County Community Hospital in Hot Springs, Virginia. The top hospitals can be found in Battle Mountain, Nevada; Holdredge, Nebraska; Sonora, Texas, and many more.

The second category is based on a “patient perspective index.” The hospitals on this list include facilities in Audubon, Iowa; Bigfork, Minnesota; Carthage, Missouri; Bar Harbor, Maine; Saint Francisville, Louisiana; and Colfax, Washington. 

Finally, we have the best rural critical care hospitals based on quality. Congratulations to the hospitals in Alpine, Texas; Nelsonville, Ohio; Anaconda, Montana; Camilia, Georgia; Luling, Texas, and many more.

In fact, congratulations to all these fine rural hospitals.

Iowa View of California — The Des Moines Register’s Dan Piller writes about the proposition on the November ballot in California that would require the labeling of some foods made with biotech grains. 

Seed companies and food producers (and groceries and soft drink companies) have put together at least $35 million to fight the measure. Proponents say laboratory altered seeds pose unspecified health risks.

But how would this affect Iowa farmers? Piller writes:

Prop 37 would be a mixed bag for Iowa farmers. The pork and beef that is the end product of the corn and soybean feed they produce would be exempt from the requirement to label genetically engineered foods. So would beer and liquor, as well as restaurant food.

But the label would apply to corn sweeteners widely used in soft drinks and bakery products, as well as the vegetable oils made from soybeans grown in Iowa and elsewhere throughout the Midwest.

Video Not ‘Fact-Based’ — USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan doesn’t think much of a video showing Kansas high schoolers fainting from hunger after eating a meagre school lunch. (We ran the video here.) 

“People are scared of change,” Merrigan told a conference held by the United Fresh Produce Association. “We feel strongly that the recommendations are backed by science and schools are strongly embracing them.”

The Kansas students made fun of new school lunch requirements, which limit the amount and kinds of food served. The students said they had so little to eat, they would grow weak and sleepy from hunger.

“It’s fun, but it’s just not fact-based,” Merrigan told more than 500 United Fresh members, according to AgriPulse. “Science dictates that half the plate be fruit and vegetables.” 

Rural Voters — Rural voters are still “solidly in Romney’s camp,” according to a CNN poll released Monday. In that poll, President Obama leads Mitt Romney 50-47 nationally. 

Bob Kerrey Doing OK — The Omaha World-Herald runs down Democrat Bob Kerrey’s financial situation. He’s doing just fine. 

Kerrey, who is running for the U.S. Senate, is making a ton as a board member for companies that do everything from manufacture gambling equipment to make clothing.

Blair Mountain Ruling — A federal judge has upheld a decision removing Blair Mountain, West Virginia, from the National Register of Historic Places, Paul Nyden reports in the Charleston Gazette. 

In 1921, Blair Mountain was the site of a pitched battle between striking coal miners and armed coal company guards. It ended only after federal troops intervened.

Blair Mountain was added to the National Register in 2009, but was removed nine months later after a dispute over who actually owns the battlefield property.

The Sierra Club and other groups sued to have the land put back in the Register. Doing so would have provided the land some protection from coal strip mining operations.

“Restoring Blair Mountain to the National Register of Historic Places would help permanently protect this important landmark from being destroyed by the same coal industry that fought against worker’s rights at its summit,” said Regina Hendrix with the Sierra Club’s West Virginia chapter.

The judge ruled that these groups had no standing because there were no plans announced to strip mine the property.

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