Amid growing number of rural hospitals closing for financial reasons, the federal government believes it has come up with a solution to help slow those closings: a new provider type called a “Rural Emergency Hospital” that offers struggling facilities roughly $3 million a year in cash.
The catch? To receive the money they must stop providing inpatient services and transfer patients who need such care to other facilities.
More than 1700 rural U.S. hospitals will have the option of participating in the program, but while the money may save some hospitals, those hospitals will never be the same. Doing so means not being able to provide certain services on which communities have long relied, and many envision challenges finding nearby hospitals willing – and able – to receive their transferred patients. But the alternative could be closing.
Across the U.S., communities and the leaders of their hospitals are weighing the pros and cons of accepting the federal money associated with becoming a Rural Emergency Hospital. The New York Times takes a closer look at the challenges these communities have faced and the decision many are now considering in the article “A Rural Hospital’s Excruciating Choice: $3.2 Million a Year or Inpatient Care?”