Friday, September 11, 2015

Another rural hospital to close, bringing total closures to 58 in past five years

Mercy Hospital Independence, a 75-bed facility in southeastern Kansas, announced on Thursday that it will cease operations on Oct. 10, reports Russell Hulstine for KOTV 6 in Tulsa. In a statement hospital officials "cited declining population and the challenges of recruiting and retaining physicians, increasing capital improvement needs and shrinking reimbursement as factors in the decision to close." Once the hospital closes, Montgomery County (Wikipedia map) will only have one hospital for its 34,000 residents.

Mercy will be the 58th rural hospital to close in the past five years, Rick Cohen reports for Nonprofit Quarterly. "Earlier this year, the National Rural Health Association identified 283 rural hospitals in danger of shutting down. That is ten percent of all rural hospitals in the nation."

Last month Cochise Regional Hospital in Douglas, Ariz., on the U.S.-Mexican border closed, meaning that the nearest hospital for the community's 17,000 residents is 20 minutes away, Kate Sheehy reports for Arizona Public Media. Since the hospital closed, "the fire department is called out on average nearly a dozen times per day, 30 percent more than in the past," said Fire Chief Mario Novoa. He told Sheehy, “Approximately 1,500 square miles from one fire department, with 6 ambulances. We’re busy; we’re busy."

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