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Rural Hospitals are Closing, Putting Remote Communities at Risk

Sally Donovan/Wikimedia Commons (Public domain)

Twenty rural Texas hospitals have closed in the past four years.

A coalition of rural Texas hospitals says small-town hospitals in the state are facing a “closure crisis” after those in Crockett and Trinity ceased operations over the summer.

The group says the recent closures bring the total number of closed rural hospitals in the past four years to nearly 20. And if the Texas Legislature and the U.S. Congress don’t act, more rural communities will be left without immediate access to quality health- and emergency care.

Hospitals are closing in rural areas across the country. The problem is more acute in states like Texas that did not expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Some of the closures are temporary, while other communities replaced hospitals with other kinds of medical facilities, including free-standing emergency centers.

David Pearson, CEO of Texas Organization of Rural and Community Hospitals, says rural hospital closures severely limit access to health care for rural residents, especially those who are critically ill, and may lack personal transportation. Closures also have negative impacts on local economies.

Carlos Morales is Marfa Public Radio's News Director.