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The health-system gaps within rural areas

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In the Texas Hill Country.

Shao-Chee Sim, Ph.D., vice president for applied research of the Episcopal Health Foundation, writes in Health Affairs that a major problem of American healthcare is not just the “health gap widening between urban and rural areas. There’s also a growing gap between the way systems of health work in different areas of the country” — including gaps between how hospital systems work within the same rural areas.

For those who need to understand this, Dr. Sim pointed to the recently released   report by the Rural and Community Health Institute (RCHI) at Texas A&M University called “What’s Next? Practical Suggestions for Rural Communities Facing a Hospital Closure.” He calls it  “a powerful narrative on the opportunities for rural communities to optimize their healthcare delivery systems in the face of hospital closures.”

“The RCHI team challenges conventional policy conversations and goes beyond solely focusing on a community losing a hospital. Instead, the authors look at the problem through a geographic lens and focus on what are the available health resources in the affected areas. The report finds that a regional approach is key to developing healthcare alternatives for rural communities, such as expanding telemedicine options, converting a former hospital into a freestanding emergency department, or establishing new rural health clinics.”

To read the piece, please hit this link.

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