A recent article in the Journal of Rural Health documents the startling increase in the number of rural hospital closures nationwide. While new hospitals may be started in the country’s major cities, America’s rural communities are facing a disturbing decrease in access to hospitals and emergency care services.
The study found that critical access hospitals that closed had, in general, lower levels of profitability, liquidity, equity, patient volume and staffing.
According to the authors (posted on a University of North Carolina School of Global Public Health website), “Since 2010, most rural hospitals that closed had weak financial performance, suggesting efforts to improve finances may reduce closure rates. About half of the closed hospitals continue to provide access to some health services as outpatient clinics or other type of facilities. The other half no longer provide health services of any kind, and new models of rural health care may be needed to provide essential services for these communities.”
See, Brystana Kaufman, et al., “The Rising Rate of Rural Hospital Closures,” The Journal of Rural Health, July 14, 2015.
Here’s an interactive map of the rural hospitals closed from 2010-2014 from that study: