Solving The Rural Health Care Access Crisis With The Freestanding Emergency Center Care Model

From Health Affairs:

Hospital closures create an economic and health care access void, which is magnified in rural communities that typically have few other employment and health care service options. Job losses directly impact medical and ancillary staff, and the community tax base is diminished when a large employer like a hospital closes, forcing people to move away from communities where they want to live or to retire. When hospitals close, so do their Emergency Departments (EDs) and the life-saving care they provide. When an ED closes, patients are forced to seek care elsewhere, introducing long travel times to other EDs, which can increase mortality for time-sensitive diseases such as trauma, stroke, sepsis, and acute myocardial infarction. This has become a crisis for a large portion of rural communities: 77 percent of 2,050 rural counties are designated Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Freestanding Emergency Centers (FECs) present a practical solution to this crisis. While rural communities may have insufficient demands for inpatient care to support a full hospital, FECs have a lower cost structure and higher patient volume.

 

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