(Salt Lake City, UT) – Since 2010, tight state budgets and cuts in Medicare have led to the closure of nearly 90 rural hospitals across the country. Estimates indicate hundreds of other rural hospitals are in danger of a similar fate. Fortunately, all of the 21 rural hospitals in Utah remain open and four of them—Ashley Regional Medical Center, Castleview Hospital, Sevier Valley Hospital, and Cedar City Hospital—even made it on a list of 100 top performing rural and community hospitals throughout the United States.
Matt McCullough, director of the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) Office of Primary Care and Rural Health (OPCRH) says the closure of a rural or community hospital can have devastating impacts on a community. “In many cases, hospitals are among the largest employers and draw other businesses to the area.” When a hospital is forced to shut its doors, per capita income falls and the unemployment rate increases. “And, given Utah’s geography, losing a hospital in a rural area increases travel time for trauma cases and heightens the risk of adverse outcomes,” McCullough adds.
For 2018, Ashley Regional Medical Center in Vernal is being honored for quality which is defined as providing the care the patient needs when the patient needs it, in an affordable, safe, and effective manner. Castleview Hospital in Price, Sevier Valley Hospital in Richfield, and Cedar City Hospital in Cedar City are all being recognized for outcomes. Outcome measures reflect the impact of the health care service or intervention on the health status of patients. The list comes from the Chartis Center for Rural Health by looking at 50 rural-relevant indicators, enabling rural hospital leadership teams to monitor and measure their hospital’s performance.
Due to the critical services provided in Utah’s rural communities, Utah Governor Gary Herbert has declared November 11 – 17, 2018 as Rural Health Week in Utah. For more information about rural health in Utah visit https://ruralhealth.health.utah.gov.