While many hospitals have struggled financially during the pandemic, few have struggled more than hospitals in rural areas. Yet if many rural hospitals close this year, COVID-19 will be only one straw that broke the camel’s back.
“For the last 20 years, rural hospitals have been struggling. That’s kind of who they are,” said Alan Morgan, CEO of the National Rural Health Association. “But COVID really knocked them off.”
There are 1,821 rural hospitals in the United States. Since 2005, 171 have closed. Twelve have closed thus far in 2020.
The closure of rural hospitals makes it more difficult for the roughly 46 million people living in rural America to access healthcare. Additionally, such hospitals provide rural areas with a significant number of jobs. Local economies suffer when a rural hospital shuts its doors.
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