A Comparison of Closed Rural Hospitals and Perceived Impact


From 2010 through 2014, 47 rural hospitals ceased providing inpatient services in 23 states across the country ("closed"). Among the 47 closed hospitals, 26 hospitals no longer provide any healthcare services ("abandoned"), and 21 continue to provide a mix of health services but no inpatient care ("converted").

These closures have affected approximately 800,000 people in the markets with abandoned hospitals and 700,000 people in the markets with converted hospitals. Loss of a rural hospital could impact access to certain necessary health services and is concerning as residents of rural communities are typically older and poorer, more dependent on public insurance programs, and have poorer health status than urban residents.

Policy-makers, researchers, and rural residents are concerned and interested in determining why these hospitals are closing, whether the rate will continue to climb, and what effects there could be on local health care providers and the communities they serve.

This policy brief compares selected characteristics of abandoned rural hospitals and their markets to those of converted rural hospitals.

More specifically:
  • How do abandoned rural hospitals compare to converted rural hospitals?
  • What has been the perceived impact of rural hospital closures?
North Carolina Rural Health Research and Policy Analysis Center
Sharita Thomas, Brystana Kaufman, Randy Randolph, Kristie Thompson, Julie Perry, George Pink