What happens when a hospital that’s essential to a community’s health and economic well-being closes? We may find out, according to a study by Navigant of 2,000 rural hospitals across the United States. The results show that 21% are at high risk of closing. To put it in plainer language: 430 hospitals across 43 states that employ 150,000 people could be shuttered.
Many factors have led to financial woes troubling these hospitals. Rural areas have low population growth, they’re hindered by fewer insurance options, and they lack the funding to leverage technology.
According to the study, one solution to the issue is collaboration with academic and regional health systems. The rural hospitals can utilize the resources—telehealth, staffing, electronic health records, and clinician training—of these larger systems. The study also supports telehealth reimbursement. The Rural Emergency Acute Care Hospital Act, for example, would create a new Medicare classification allowing rural hospitals to offer emergency and outpatient services without inpatient beds.
After reading the article about “More than 20% of rural hospitals are at risk of closing,” I could not stop to think how this will affect the distribution of healthcare for everyone in the United States. I’m interested the solutions of how to combat this problem to essentially preserve the healthcare needs of communities. It would be very dangerous to push healthcare availability to the next town. Time is of the essence.
I checked the HealthLeaders article that was part of the link on your website and I’m surprised how recent this article was published. The total amount of 430 hospital closures across 43 states that employs at least 150,000 people would worsen the economy of those places and ultimately the country. These states include Southern and Midwestern states. The health system administrators and politicians of the local, state, and federal level do indeed have to act quickly to avoid future atrocities. As we learned through nursing school, every 4 minutes one person has a stroke and to have 64% of the 430 hospitals to close would take away the community’s health and well-being. I am relieved that your article has mentioned about utilizing telehealth as a means to counteract this issue as well as The Rural Emergency Acute Care Hospital Act. It would be helpful for us readers to learn more of how telehealth works and its impact so far for rural areas.
Lastly, I am grateful your organization has brought up this issue that is frankly not on the minds of people living in suburban and urban areas. This needs to be followed up and your readers need to be active politically to protect the healthcare of all people residing in America.
Susan K. Campos, MBA, BS
Student Nurse, ACNM 2019