September 19, 2017

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Rural Hospitals Struggle To Stock Expensive Drugs That Could Save Lives

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Lulabelle Berry surveys the 600 acres she and her husband, Jimmy, own in the Ozarks near Mountain View, Ark. Berry walks laps on her porch to aid her recovery from a stroke. She says she’s grateful for the drug that saved her life. “It’s been a good life,” she says. Sarah Jane Tribble for Kaiser Health News hide caption

toggle caption Sarah Jane Tribble for Kaiser Health News

Hospital pharmacist Mandy Langston remembers when Lulabelle Berry arrived at the emergency center of Stone County Medical Center in Mountain View, Ark., last year.

Berry couldn’t talk. Her face was drooping on one side. Her eyes couldn’t focus.

“She was basically unresponsive,” Langston recalls.

Berry, 78, was having a severe ischemic stroke. Each passing second made brain damage more likely. So, Langston reached for the clot-busting drug Activase, which must be given within a few hours to work.

“If we don’t keep this drug [in stock], people will die,” Langston says.

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Stone County Medical Center pharmacist Mandy Langston, who has worked at the Mountain View, Ark., hospital for nine years, says she seen the

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