Thursday, August 27, 2020

Experts worry pandemic will hasten rural hospital closures

"As covid-19 continues to spread, an increasing number of rural communities find themselves without their hospital or on the brink of losing already cash-strapped facilities," Sarah Jane Tribble reports for Kaiser Health News. The outlook was already dire: 18 rural hospitals closed last year, and more than 170 have closed since 2005. But officials fear 2020 could see even more closures than last year because of the financial pressures of the pandemic.

Losing a hospital, even without a pandemic, is a big blow to a rural community's economy and health. A 2019 study found that death rates nearby rise nearly 6 percent after a rural hospital closes, Tribble reports.

"Add to that what is known about the coronavirus: People who are obese or live with diabetes, hypertension, asthma and other underlying health issues are more susceptible to covid-19," Tribble reports. "Rural areas tend to have higher rates of these conditions. And rural residents are more likely to be older, sicker and poorer than those in urban areas. All this leaves rural communities particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus."

No comments: