The Chartis Center for Rural Health conducts ongoing research to identify and assess the impact of challenges facing the rural landscape. Our research explores several aspects of the rural health safety net including population health disparities, the declining access to care within rural communities, downward pressure on rural provider revenues and rural hospital vulnerability. Over the course of the last 10 years, our findings and analysis have help to inform the national conversation surrounding rural healthcare. Organizations such as the National Rural Health Association and individual state offices of rural health rely on our research to support initiatives, raise awareness and drive legislation that will improve the delivery of care across rural America.
Our analysis suggests that the socioeconomic disadvantages and health disparities dividing rural and urban communities may be widening. Particularly alarming are gaps in disparity measures between rural communities and those in which a rural hospital is vulnerable to closure.
Our national survey indicates that COVID vaccine-related hesitancy and resistance among rural hospital healthcare personnel is prominent. As a result, COVID will linger in rural communities for the foreseeable future, stretching hospital resources and amplifying the risk to already vulnerable populations.
The rapid spread of COVID-19 in rural communities and the pre-existing rural hospital closure crisis have left 453 hospitals vulnerable to closure, on top of the 135 hospitals that have closed since 2010. Our latest research provides a lens into the extent to which the pandemic is impacting rural hospitals.
The accelerated rate at which rural hospitals are closing continues to unsettle the rural healthcare community. Building on our research into the stability of the rural health safety net, our multilevel logistic regression model identified more than 450 rural hospitals vulnerable to closure.
The surge of infections and hospitalizations has disproportionately pushed the rural health safety net to capacity and threatens to undermine the ability of these facilities to deliver care to disadvantaged communities.
In this analysis, The Chartis Center for Rural Health explores key factors in assessing the potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the rural health safety net, including access to intensive care unit beds, the reliance on outpatient service revenues and rural provider days cash on hand.
Our annual analysis of the impact of different policies on the stability of the rural health safety net. This data is shared each year during the National Rural Health Association’s Rural Health Policy Institute conference in Washington, D.C.