Earlier this week, residents of Tate County in north Mississippi learned their community hospital’s ER will close next month. Unfortunately, this is becoming a reality in many small communities, particularly in the Southeast.
According to the University of North Carolina’s Rural Health Research and Policy Analysis Center, more than 120 rural hospitals have gone out of business since 2005, and the trend has been accelerating since 2010. The road may be even tougher for these facilities if proposed Medicaid and Medicare cuts are approved.
These hospitals are a lifeline to the vulnerable and under-served patients they treat. When they eliminate services or close, other surrounding hospitals must fill that gap. Because we are fortunate enough to serve so many communities, the responsibility to care for these patients sometimes falls to us.
That’s why we’re investing in technology like Baptist OneCare and in services like the TeleGuardian eICU and the Patient Placement Center. They help bring our services to those with limited access to care.
It’s also why we’re exploring partnerships with other rural health care providers. Combining resources helps us weather the challenges that have forced other hospitals to close.
More rural hospitals may close or reduce services, but be assured that we are diligently working on ways to ensure our future success so we can continue caring for people in need. It’s our duty, and it’s our mission.