PORTLAND, Maine--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Chartis Group, a leading healthcare advisory and analytics firm, released new findings today on the stability of the rural health safety net, in conjunction with the National Rural Health Association’s 32nd Annual Rural Health Policy Institute conference. The Chartis Center for Rural Health’s latest publication, “Crises Collide: The COVID-19 Pandemic and the Rural Health Safety Net,” provides an expansive view into the state of rural healthcare as it grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic and an ongoing hospital closure crisis.
“All of the key metrics we track to assess the stability of the rural health safety net indicate that the situation for rural hospitals continues to be tenuous,” said Michael Topchik, National Leader, The Chartis Center for Rural Health. “Nearly half of all rural hospitals operate in the red; the speed with which closures are occurring has not abated; services are disappearing; and rural hospitals are struggling to provide the operational and financial resources required to adequately respond to COVID-19.”
Rural communities across the country are at an increased risk due to a myriad of factors, ranging from population health disparities and the recruitment and retention of healthcare professionals to government policy and prolonged resistance to Medicaid expansion. Since 2010, 135 rural hospitals have closed, and research conducted by The Chartis Center for Rural Health shows that 453 rural hospitals are vulnerable to closure. This study, which builds upon Chartis’ existing rural health research program, provides a lens into the extent to which the pandemic is impacting rural hospitals. Key findings from the report include:
- 46 percent of rural hospitals have a negative operating margin. However, in states which have not expanded Medicaid, 50 percent of rural hospitals are in the red.
- Services are on the decline in rural communities as 166 rural hospitals have ceased to provide obstetrics and 252 rural hospitals stopped providing chemotherapy services.
- 62 percent of rural hospitals lack intensive care unit (ICU) beds, and outpatient services represent 77 percent of total revenue.
- By January 8, 2021, 34 percent of adult hospitalizations at rural hospitals were related to COVID-19, and 83 percent of staffed rural ICU beds for adults were occupied.
“Beginning in the fall of 2020, we can see how rising infection rates in rural counties really cascaded into a dire situation that overloaded the rural health safety net,” added Topchik. “It’s no wonder that respondents to the survey we conducted as part of this analysis expressed strong concerns about staff burnout in the short-term and the pandemic’s effect on financial stability in the long-term.”
“Crises Collide: The COVID-19 Pandemic and the Rural Health Safety Net” can be downloaded at https://www.chartis.com/services/ccrh.
About The Chartis Group
The Chartis Group® (Chartis) provides comprehensive advisory services and analytics to the healthcare industry. It brings critical thinking and deep industry experience paired with cutting-edge data, analytics, and technology to deliver #NextIntelligence. With an unparalleled depth of expertise in strategic planning, performance excellence, health analytics, informatics and technology, digital and emerging technologies, clinical quality and operations, and strategic communications, Chartis helps leading academic medical centers, integrated delivery networks, children's hospitals, and healthcare service organizations achieve transformative results and build a healthier world. Chartis has offices in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, New York, Minneapolis, and San Francisco. For more information, visit www.chartis.com.