A Shetland pony has a much wider field of vision than a human does. John Killacky of Williston, VT, tries to get in sync with his pony "Raindrop."

[imgcontainer] [img:shetlandpony530.jpg] [source]Andreas Nilsson[/source] A Shetland pony has a much wider field of vision than a human does. John Killacky of Williston, VT, tries to get in sync with his pony “Raindrop.” [/imgcontainer]

What’s it like to be a psychiatrist in a small town?

Dr. Rashmi Ojha  is practicing at the East-Central District Health Department, Good-Neighbor Community Health Center, in Columbus, Nebraska, and written about it for Psychiatric Times.

Dr. Ojha had assumed she’d be assigned to an in-patient facility, but in Columbus, as in most rural settings, the closest psychiatric hospital is an hour away.

“I quickly realized that, out here, I was treating as outpatients those whom I would have admitted at the drop of a hat during my residency. I started seeing a variety of patients—the compliant ones, the drug-seekers, those who regarded me as their guardian, grateful patients, no-shows who missed multiple consecutive appointments, and even some miraculous turnarounds that we all dream of.

“I treat patients in crisis situations in the clinic just as I would if they were inpatients; the same medications are used. These patients may return to the clinic for follow-up the same day, the next day, and the day after. Inpatient hospitalization is discouraged unless it is absolutely necessary.”

Dr. Ohja stresses that the clinic’s team, including a social worker, therapist, nurses, and clerks, must work together — and does.  And there are benefits to practicing psychiatry in a small town: “Local agencies that work with the mentally ill help the clinic and function as ‘extended eyes.’ In certain situations, family members are very helpful. Even the local sheriff’s department is available to help when needed. So far, I am proud to say, the clinic staff has been able to provide intensive treatment for some critically ill patients on an outpatient basis—and at a reasonable cost.”

 • The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy has released a new study finding that more efficient construction of manufactured homes “can save consumers $4.6 billion in energy costs” over the next 20 years.

Jacob Talbot, lead researcher for the report, wrote, “By using conventional building techniques like higher insulation values, energy-efficient windows, and improved duct sealing, we can build manufactured homes with energy performance on par and even exceeding that of the site-built housing market. We found that high-efficiency heating and cooling equipment, lighting, and appliances can save substantial amounts of energy as well.”

To see the complete report, click here (log on required).

• Farm and Dairy has published an intriguing feature story about the range of objects made from farm products—just two examples: cola bottles made from switchgrass and asphalt binder made with hog manure.

• NewGrid magazine reports on $29 million in new USDA loans to small communities for improvements in electric lines and smart-grid technology. The story specifies which communities have received the loan guarantees and what improvements will be made.

• There’s not enough human receptivity to go around. Consequently tragedies like the fires in and around Drumright, Oklahoma, have been crowded out of the news. “We’ve lost over 150 homes in Creek County,” says Danny Cooper, Drumright’s City Manager.  “These are people who have lost everything.”

Cooper said that two brush trucks and volunteer firemen from nearby Blackburn fought fires in the Drumright area for four straight days straight.  “On the way home for a brief respite, both trucks broke down and now they’re without help or resources there.”

Cooper said that towns in the area have spent 70% of their emergency funds already and “we’re only part way through the yearly fire season.” Cash donations, firefighting equipment and trucks are all needed.  Cash donations can be made to any of the churches or to a Victims Relief Fund which has been setup at SpiritBank in Drumright.

John Killacky, a public radio correspondent in rural Vermont, explains how to “think like a pony.”

“Horses see at 350 degrees, encompassing peripheral vision,” he writes. “I practice this perspective and vast horizons of fields, mountains, and clouds feathering the sky unfold.”

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