Hospital Closings Hit Rural Communities Hard, But Aren’t Inevitable

Photo by Taylor Sisk/North Carolina Health News

Community hospitals across the country have been closing in recent years. Reasons given include system consolidations, rising costs of care, Medicare reimbursement issues, and changing models of health care delivery. Few hospital closures are welcomed by patients or employees, but those that take place in rural areas, where there may not be another hospital for many miles, often affect the local community with particular severity.

A double hit for local economies.

Not only do hospital closings in rural areas make access to health care a challenge, sometimes forcing local residents to drive many miles for care. But—as this month’s AJN Reports points out (“Will Rural Community Hospitals Survive?“)—rural hospital closings also have a ripple effect on a local economy, meaning lost jobs as well as lost revenue for ancillary businesses in the area.

Hospital that innovate may survive.

Despite current pressures, some rural hospitals are finding new ways to thrive. As the article describes in greater detail, hospital “survival strategies” include partnerships and “becoming increasingly creative with providing services,” including expanding the use of telehealth.

Nurses still in demand, despite closings.

The article also explores the effects of hospital closings on local nurses and the job outlook for the coming years. Even if they’ve lost hospital jobs because of a closure, nurses do continue to find non-hospital jobs with other health care providers in their areas.

But are nurses finding the kind of nursing work they want to do after local hospitals close? What’s your experience of the effects of hospital closings in your area?

2017-09-26T09:45:27+00:00 September 26th, 2017|Nursing|0 Comments
Senior editor/social media strategy, American Journal of Nursing, and editor of AJN Off the Charts.

Comments are moderated before approval, but always welcome.

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