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Posts from January, 2014

Rural Hospitals, the Unsung Heroes of Eldercare

Jan 31

In a previous post we discussed the challenges faced by rural elderly and their caregivers. Rural patients have to travel long distances to seek care, made more difficult by the fact that many can no longer drive and there is a lack of available or reliable public transportation. These issues contribute to their tendency to delay seeking care, which aggravates health problems and leads to more complicated, lengthy and expensive interventions when they finally do receive medical attention.

Rural communities rely on their hospitals on many levels. In many cases, rural hospitals are the only source for care. Since rural hospitals are often the sole site for patient care in the community, they are also more likely to vital eldercare services that otherwise would not be accessible to residents. For example, many rural hospitals provide hospice, home health services, skilled nursing, adult day care and assisted living. Additionally they many support broader social needs through subsidized programs such as meal deliver services, community health education, rural health clinics and other services. Often rural hospitals step in to offer these services out a sense of community responsibility, as stand-alone providers may have trouble keeps their doors open in low-volume, isolated areas of the country.

Yet despite the fact that rural hospitals are a vital lifeline to both communities and their residents, rural hospitals are facing a barrage of challenges. Future posts will discuss some of these challenges as well as innovative solutions that are helping support and strengthen rural hospitals across the nation.