Hospital stability remains a high concern now more than ever. The COVID 19 pandemic has highlighted the critical role our rural hospitals play in their communities and in the larger healthcare system of our state. Unfortunately 2020 saw a significant increase in hospital closures nationally, including two in Georgia. Over the past several years the Georgia Department of Community Health and the State office of Rural Health have taken important and significant action to support rural hospitals and promote their stability. It has become clear that more information about the challenges these facilities face will strengthen these efforts and add to the great work that has already been done.
With this in mind, the Georgia Rural Health Innovation Center is working alongside the State Office of Rural Health (SORH) to better understand the landscape facing Georgia’s rural hospitals. As part of this year’s Rural Hospital Stabilization Grant Program, SORH requested that hospitals participate in an additional assessment facilitated by the Center. The assessment aims to provide greater context for the dynamics impacting these facilities by a comprehensive review conducted by experienced healthcare leaders. The Center assembled a Strikeforce team of experts representing many parts of the healthcare system to provide holistic reports and assessments for each facility. This knowledge will help guide decision making in a way that tailors initiatives to best meet the needs of rural hospitals in these turbulent times and also provide insights into broader trends. Once the Strikeforce completes their initial work, the group will remain on standby as a response team for issues that may arise, ready to support hospitals facing difficult situations.
Submitted by Chris Scoggins, MPH