According to an August 3, 2017 CNN report by Caitlin Ostroff and Ciara Bri’d Frisbie, Sixteen percent of mainland America is 30 miles or more from a hospital.  The lack of adequate financing of rural hospitals may make this worse. Medicaid cuts could close even more rural hospitals   This can especially effect  trauma, cardiac neurological and other medical care

Story highlights

  • 30 million Americans don’t live within an hour of trauma care
  • The rate of accidental deaths is nearly 50% higher in rural versus urban areas
The article describes hospital deserts where people do not have adequate access to emergency care.
A February 2017 study in Injury estimates that nearly 30 million Americans don’t live within an hour of trauma care. And a further CNN analysis found that residents living in 16% of the mainland United States are 30 miles or more away from the nearest hospital.
“Every minute that you can get the patient into treatment sooner will represent some brain cells that are saved,” he said.
In fact, the rate of accidental deaths — adjusted for age — was nearly 50% higher in rural versus urban areas from 1999 to 2015, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC says distance to emergency rooms was a key factor.
The problem has been exacerbated as rural hospitals struggle to stay open. Since 2010, 81 rural hospitals have closed in the United States, according to a rural health research program at the University of North Carolina. Another 673 rural hospitals are vulnerable to shutting down.
Areas without hospitals are called “hospital deserts.” The deserts are biggest in Western states. In Nevada, for instance, there are only 13 hospitals providing critical-care services to rural areas.
The 2,400 residents of Tonopah, Nevada, who live halfway between Las Vegas and Reno, must travel more than 100 miles to get to a hospital. It was one of the most extreme examples that CNN found outside of Alaska.
Jessica Thompson, a registered nurse there, has family roots in the community dating back more than a century.
“I’ve been told multiple times that’s what I get for (choosing) to live in rural Nevada and that really upsets me, because that isn’t the choice I made. I was born in a hospital and I had a hospital my entire life up until two years ago,” she said.
Other parts of the country are dealing with similar problems, including pockets of Florida, Texas and New York.
A report last year by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation predicts that the problem will worsen as more rural hospitals are likely to shut down. This is in part because rural towns are losing population and becoming poorer.
Republican hopes to repeal and replace Obamacare could make the problem much worse, experts say, if millions of American lose their health insurance. That would put even more pressure on rural hospitals.
Some in Congress have proposed efforts to try to save rural hospitals. A bipartisan group of senators led by Iowa Republican Charles Grassley introduced a bill that would change Medicare rules to allow rural hospitals to have an emergency room and outpatient care, without the need for hospital beds.

Source: As rural hospitals close, millions of Americas live nowhere near an emergency room. – CNN