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Amish health care needs to be addressed at midstate conference

Written by Rachel McDevitt, All Things Considered Host | May 14, 2019 6:30 PM

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(Harrisburg) -- The Amish rely on themselves for many of their communities' needs, but health care can be a different issue.

Elizabethtown College plans to hold a conference on the topic next month.

The college's Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies hosts a conference focused on Plain Communities every few years, but this will be the first one dedicated to health and well-being.

Steve Nolt, a professor of history and anabaptist studies at the Young Center, said the conference will focus on prominent genetic and medical conditions in the community as well as providing culturally competent care.

The Plain community population doubles about every 20 years and new settlements are being established outside traditional areas.

"These folks are moving to communities in which they don't have a long history and so medical folks in those areas don't have a history of working with them," Nolt said.

Even in places like Lancaster County, where Amish have lived for centuries, hospitals experience turnover and new practitioners might not know the best way to approach Plain people.

For example, immunization and cancer screening rates are lower among the Amish than the general population.

Nolt says that's an issue of outreach, not religious restrictions.

Other conference topics include mental health, alternative medicine, and insurance. 

The conference is slated for June 6-8th. Registration closes May 20th. 

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