This is not just a local or regional problem, this is becoming a National issue. Should access to quality healthcare exist only in metropolitan areas? What happens to these communities when they not only lose access to healthcare and emergency services, but often times lose their communities largest employer? According to the National Rural Health Association, 28 Rural Hospitals have closed since the beginning of 2013; this is nearly double the pace of the previous 20 months. In the past year alone, more rural hospitals closed than in the prior 15 years combined.
According to Ezekiel Emanuel, a White House health policy special advisor, one in five hospitals will close by 2020. That will mean nearly 1000 hospital closures across the Nation. Emanuel predicts the first hospitals to go will be smaller ones, which already operate with less than half of their beds full. At Columbia County Health System, we would offer the counter point that its not all about how many “Inpatients” the hospital has, but rather the 230 patients we see on a daily basis for everything from out patient emergency services, lab, PT, and X-Ray to forty-four long term care residents.