64 closures in 5 years Rural hospital closures increased dramatically in the past 5 years Financial pressures have led many rural hospitals to close. Southern hospitals and for-profit hospitals were impacted most. Oct. 17, 2018Wednesday Ashley Altus Contact Ashley Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Email Sixty-four rural hospitals closed between 2013-2017, according to a new report form the U.S. Government Accountability Office. This is twice the number of closures that occurred in the previous five-year period. Rural hospitals represent nearly half of hospitals nationwide and 16 percent of inpatient beds. Almost half of the hospitals that closed transitioned to another type of health care facility such as urgent care, emergency care, outpatient care or primary care. Why they closed: Most rural hospitals closed during this period because of financial turmoil. They experienced Medicare payment reductions and had fewer patients seeking inpatient care. The closed hospitals usually had negative margins and weren’t able to cover their fixed costs. States where Medicaid eligibility and enrollment increased had fewer rural hospital closures. Life in rural vs. urban areas Characteristic Rural areas Urban areas Elderly resident population in 2014 18% of population 14% of population Limitations in activities caused by chronic conditions in 2010-2011 18% of adults 13% of adults Median household income in 2014 $44,000 $58,000 Population change from 2010-2015 Declined on average by .07 percent per year Increased on average by .9 percent per year Employment growth from 2010-2015 Increased .8 percent per year Increased 1.9 percent per year Source: U.S. Government Accountability Office Characteristics of rural hospital closures Southern hospitals: More than three-quarters of rural hospital closures from 2013 to 2017 occurred in the South. In 2013, 38 percent of the nation’s rural hospitals were located in this region. Medicare Dependent hospitals: One-quarter of rural hospital closures from 2013 to 2017 were hospitals that had a Medicare Dependent designation. For-profit hospitals: Thirty-six percent of rural hospital that closed between 2013 and 2017 were for-profit institutions. To learn more, see the full report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office here. Further reading: Best hospitals in America as chosen by doctors America’s best hospitals, as ranked by U.S. News More in Patient Care Child abuse pediatrics: Who we are and where we are going Child protection teams experience emotional highs and lows each day on the job. Of course, this can be difficult, but these medical professionals are filling critical needs in medical care with every child they treat. What two months on a hospital recliner taught me Katherine Dobosh, OMS II, recalls time spent with her hospitalized grandfather, and her reflections on how physicians can provide better care for patients with limited English proficiency. Previous articleIn Memoriam: Keith Peterson, DO, sports medicine pioneer Next articleDoes it matter if doctors wear white coats?