COVID-19 is bringing attention to rural hospital sustainability

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“Hospital closings are generally attributed to a high rate of uninsured patients, who may require medical attention but can’t afford it, leaving rural hospitals with fewer patients and less revenue,” said Ayoka Pond, Director of Public Relations and Internal Communications at Baptist Memorial Health Care.

With the closing of the McKenzie Regional Hospital in 2018 and the recent closing of the Decatur County General Hospital in April, 21 counties in Tennessee are now left stranded with no local hospital.

This decrease in access to rural hospitals with the increase in COVID-19 cases in Tennessee has led to governmental aid for the remaining open hospitals through the Corona, Relief, and Economic Security (Cares) Act.

The Baptist Memorial Hospital in Huntingdon is one of these rural hospitals that received funding from the CARES Act. Mrs. Pond described the act as being helpful, but the main reason for their hospital remaining open during this hard times is due to the hospital being, “affiliated with a large health care system (Baptist Memorial Health Care) that provides critical support when we need it. Because of this affiliation, we have been able to serve the Carroll County community for almost 40 years.”

The Baptist Memorial Hospital’s health care system demonstrates that hospital’s sustainability will not be solved will government grants right before its closing, but instead renewed and affordable health cares plans. Amid a pandemic, having affordable healthcare should not be up for discussion because instead, it should already be available to the millions who are suffering from COVID-19.

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