Differences in Community Characteristics of Sole Community Hospitals


In 1983, Congress created the Sole Community Hospital (SCH) program to support small rural hospitals for which "by reason of factors such as isolated location, weather conditions, travel conditions, or absence of other hospitals, is the sole source of inpatient hospital services reasonably available in a geographic area to Medicare beneficiaries."

A SCH is often the only source of hospital care for isolated rural residents. As such, the Medicare hospital classification is intended to keep these institutions viable through certain payment enhancements and protections to the hospital. The purpose of this brief is to: 1) present a snapshot of SCHs and the communities served by them in 2015 (cross-sectional analysis) and 2) identify some trends in selected SCH and community characteristics between 2006 and 2015 (longitudinal analysis).

North Carolina Rural Health Research and Policy Analysis Center
Sharita Thomas, Mark Holmes, George Pink