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What to Know: The Power of Rural Hospitals

Rural Health Day celebrates rural hospitals across the U.S.

November 17, 2022

Pennsylvania’s rural hospitals serve an essential role protecting access to care in their communities.

On National Rural Health Day, HAP celebrates Pennsylvania’s rural hospitals for the outstanding care they provide across the commonwealth. The annual observance highlights the “Power of Rural” health care providers and the innovative ways they are delivering care.

Rural hospitals face unique financial challenges, and they also care for a patient population that tends to be older, has more chronic conditions and health disparities, and would otherwise struggle to access the services they need to be healthy.

As we celebrate Rural Health Day, here are five things to know from the American Hospital Association’s recent report on rural hospitals:

  • Economic impact:  Rural hospitals supported one in every 12 rural jobs and contributed $220 billion in economic activity in rural communities during 2020.
  • Patient population:  Rural hospitals make up about 35 percent of U.S. hospitals, and About half have 25 or fewer beds.
  • Threat for closure:  From 2010 through 2021, 136 rural hospitals closed, with 73 complete closures and 63 converted closures. About 74 percent of rural closures occurred in state where Medicaid expansion was not in place or had been in place for a year.
  • Workforce challenges:  Recruitment and retention are particularly important for rural hospitals. About 70 percent of the primary care Health Professional Shortage Areas are in rural or partially rural areas.
  • The big takeaway:  “In rural communities across America, hospitals and health systems are cornerstones for the health and well-being of the patients and communities they serve,” the report noted.

HAP is committed to helping Pennsylvania’s rural hospitals address the financial challenges threatening their ability to deliver outstanding care. For example, Pennsylvania’s Rural Health Model provides a sustainable model of care, ensuring rural hospitals can count on stable revenue sources as they transform care in their communities.

HAP celebrates our rural hospitals for their exemplary care and will continue to advocate for resources that will preserve rural health care across the commonwealth.

For additional information about Rural Health Day or Pennsylvania’s Rural Health Model, contact Kate Slatt, HAP’s vice president, innovative payment and care delivery.