Community Hospitals Are Economic Engines. How Are You Fueling Yours?
Metaphors commonly used to describe community hospitals underscore their importance to the regions they serve. They’ve been called economic engines, cornerstones of the community, and, by Forbes, the “financial glue” that holds communities together. Community hospitals tend to be one of the top employers in town, so when one closes, there are more consequences than traveling farther for hospital care.
Still, community hospitals are closing at a dispiriting rate—87 shut down in 26 states from January 2010 to July 2018, according to the North Carolina Rural Health Research Program. Countless additional community hospitals are on the brink. As always, CHC brings resources to get struggling hospitals back on track, including operational assessments and supply chain savings through our group purchasing organization, CHC Supply Trust. CHC recently has stepped up efforts to help hospitals secure federal grant support to bolster sustainable business models. Additionally, CHC helps hospitals evaluate strategic partnership opportunities.
We at CHC believe the economic engine metaphor still applies to community hospitals. However, it may be time to reconsider what it takes to keep these engines running. Across the county there are many examples of rural hospitals facing challenges along with some innovative ideas:
- This New York Times article, “It’s 4 A.M. The Baby’s Coming. But the Hospital Is 100 Miles Away” covers the challenges in rural Missouri when the only hospital in town shut its doors. More than 179 rural counties across the country have lost hospital obstetric care since 2004.
- Read about a town that exemplifies the challenges independent community hospitals face in the Modern Healthcare article, “Rural Tennessee town feels the downstream effects of its only community provider shutting its doors.” Tennessee is second (behind Texas) in the number of rural hospital closures, with eight shutting down since 2012 and another half dozen in deep financial trouble.
- The article “When Should Providers Consider a Strategic Hospital Acquisition” includes risks of waiting to consider strategic partnerships.
- Learn more about how rural hospitals are innovating and partnering to remain viable in this Rural Matters podcast featuring CHC CEO Jim Kendrick and Yoakum Community Hospital CEO Karen Barber.
- Read CHC’s case study, “Turnaround from Technical Default to Nationally Ranked Hospital” featuring Gunnison Valley Health, Gunnison, CO, to see how CHC helped implement the financial and operational improvements at the hospital.
As industry and mainstream coverage makes clear, community hospitals are indeed the economic engines of their regions. Like any engine, they can sometimes use a tune-up. Learn more about how CHC’s services and solutions can help maximize your hospital’s performance.