State is doing more to place medical providers in areas without them

Charles James is president of both the Illinois Rural Health Association and the National Association of Rural Health Care Clinics. (Dave Dahl/WJBC)

By Dave Dahl

SPRINGFIELD – Once Charles James starts speaking, you realize quickly why he says what he has to say is sometimes unwelcome.

“We have some Third World health care statistics,” James said, “in, really, what is arguably the best health care available in the world.”

James is president of both the Illinois Rural Health Association and the National Association of Rural Health Care Clinics, spoke during a news conference meant to celebrate the expansion of a program to help pay off student loans for medical professionals who agree to work in underserved areas.

Sort of like “Northern Exposure” without the moose.

The newest part of the program, as Thursday’s event championed sponsoring State Sen. Doris Turner (D-Springfield), extends to physician assistants and advanced practice nurses.

The Illinois group’s executive director, Margaret Vaughn, says 65 Illinois counties qualify as underserved. “Some counties have only one ambulance,” she said, “Some counties don’t even have a dentist.”

Dave Dahl can be reached at


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