Life is much more easier these days. A hundred years ago people had lesser access to medicine. In the Old West (U.S.), there were few big cities, so people lived much farther apart. If a person became sick, a family would have to carry the person a long way to find a doctor. Sometimes, the distance was much too far for the person who was sick.
A great more people died of diseases such as cholera, measles and typhoid. There were also lot fewer healthcare professionals. They didn't have much more training than "word of mouth". A barber or a priest couldn't offer much more than comfort to a sick person. Few people lived to old age, and young people died a way too soon.
access (n.) – a way or means to get to something
barber (n.) – a professional who shaves faces, cuts hair (and in the old days pulled teeth and gave first aid.)
word of mouth – information passed from one individual to another