Introduction

The United States military dependants’ that are stationed in rural South Korea ability to understand medical care, may face unique challenges regarding the ability to access timely emergency care compared to urban individuals. Whitney et al. (2010) describes the challenges to be geographical and focuses on access to certain established medical care. Furthermore, individuals must have an established medical knowledge base concerning when he or she must access medical care. In addition, military beneficiaries give up a level of comfort when they choose to live outside of the United States. The ranking of world health systems describes that the United States ranks 37th in health care compared to South Korea at 58th (World Health Organization [WHO], 2011). Furthermore, the communities within South Korea that house military dependants are located 30-60 minutes from established American Military and South Korean emergency rooms or after hour health clinics located on the military bases. Subsequently, unique to Korea is that all military bases have an operating after-hour clinic that serves all military beneficiaries. Furthermore, the after hour-care clinics are operated with medical staff that can stabilize, treat, and transport patients to the nearest military American medical treatment facility or South Korean Hospital.

Background of the Problem

The individuals’ ability to decide when he or she will access medical care is based on symptoms, seriousness of the condition, and deciding that the emergency room is the most appropriate place to seek care (Padget & Brodsky, 1992). Furthermore, medical access for rural healthcare individuals may be challenging depending on the geographical locations. Subsequently, rural military families must have a predetermined knowledge base to aid in his or her ability to access the correct medical facility, while stationed in a rural military South Korean community.
Moreover, factors exist on military bases overseas that include types of medical services military facilities can provide, medical provider’s expertise, and access to specialty medical care. More specifically, the factors previously discussed may include medical knowledge decisions based the types of medical providers available
in South Korea, types of services available, and cost of these medical services. As discussed by Callahan and Zimring (2011), the military has provided military hospital facilities in countries like South Korea since 1959. The number of family members allowed to accompany his or her spouse is based on the number of command sponsored slots available. There is about 1000 authorized command sponsored slots according to the Command Sponsorship Program (CSP) allocation matrix for military Army military in Camp Humphreys that is the base near Pyeongtaek, South Korea (United States Forces Korea [USFK] Regulation, 614-1, 2010). Furthermore, individuals may have preconceived expectations regarding the standard of care he or she will receive compared to other duty stations where health care facilities are more established compared to South Korea.
As noted by Choi, Hong, Lee, Jung, and Kim (2007), the inception of the Korean Emergency Medical Society establishment in 1989 that allowed the ability to establish standards and regulations regarding emergency medical services (EMS) in South Korea. The relevance of this South Korean medical EMS system is the need to access this service when individuals are faced with a perceived medical emergency; in addition, the emergency medical technician is only responsible for basic life support. (Choi et al, 2007). Conversely, the EMS system in the United States was established in the 1970’s and the military and non-military dependants arriving from the United States are accustomed to a higher level of care when accessing emergency medical services (Wingrove & Reinert, 2009). Furthermore, the study and research being conducted will better understand perceptions and lived experiences as it relates to emergency medical knowledge of military dependents stationed in rural areas of South Korea.

The ability for individuals’ to have access to healthcare is a topic that must be sought with perseverance as it relates to the individuals understanding of the decision making process regarding where to seek medical care. Consequently, if the access is not provided to certain individuals with certain non-emergent or emergent medical conditions in a timely manner, he or she may suffer serious life threatening medical conditions. As noted by Fournier, Dumont, Tourigny, Dunkley, and Dramé (2009), in regard to the topic of obstetric emergencies, the overall rate of mortality and serious complications were reduced due to patients receiving early referral to more definitive care. The ability for the health care community continually to ensure where patients are supposed to go in case of certain emergencies is paramount in ensuring the patient gets the earliest and highest quality of care. For example, urban communities may have an advantage solely based on ease of transportation and facility access. Consequently, it is crucial that the communities and individuals located in rural environments understand all of their options in regard to the best quality of medical care access available to them. As discussed by Lucke et al. (2008), “many older carriers in both rural and urban areas do not access health and community services even when appropriate services are available” (p.1) The ability to study the topic of access to healthcare for individuals in the rural communities, will possibly discover the reasons why certain individuals are not using the services that are available.