COVID-19 stretches rural health safety net

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, COVID-19 stretches rural health safety net

Whereas hospital beds are filling up throughout the nation, rural hospitals have felt the brunt of the newest COVID-19 surge, new analysis reveals.

About 40% of grownup hospitalizations at rural hospitals have been COVID-19 associated as of Nov. 27, up from a median of 28% in late July, Chartis Middle for Rural Well being’s evaluation of HHS knowledge reveals. The share of COVID-related hospitalizations at city hospitals elevated from 14% to 23% over that span.

Rural hospitals usually lack the capability, gear and staffing to finest handle acute instances. There’s one ICU mattress for each 9,500 People who stay in rural communities, the place intensive care beds are exhausting to return by. Practically two-thirds of rural hospitals have no ICU beds, Chartis knowledge present.

Of those who have ICU beds, 82% have been occupied as of late November, up from 73% in August, in line with its up to date analysis. Many sufferers have needed to be transported to metro areas, the place capacities are equally strained, stated Michael Topchik, the nationwide chief for Chartis.

“Rural sufferers are flooding their group ERs and hospitals, a portion of whom must be moved to bigger services that aren’t actually in any place to take further sufferers,” he stated. “This isn’t only a rural drawback, that is everybody’s drawback.”

Arizona has the fewest ICU beds out there at 95% capability, with Oklahoma, Florida, Tennessee and Louisiana all above 90% capability, in line with the newest HHS knowledge.

“It solely takes one or two critically in poor health households to utterly swamp a rural facility’s capability,” Dr. Roger Ray, a doctor consulting director at Chartis, informed Trendy Healthcare in April.

Whereas COVID-19 stimulus funding has helped maintain rural hospitals afloat, many—notably within the South—have needed to pare down companies or shut. Greater than three-quarters of rural hospitals’ income stems from outpatient settings, which have been idled for a number of stints this 12 months as non-urgent procedures have been delayed or canceled, Chartis discovered.

Seventeen rural hospitals have closed to date this 12 months—the second-highest annual mark since 2010, in line with the College of North Carolina’s Cecil G. Sheps Middle for Well being Companies Analysis.


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