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The Struggle of Rural Tennessee Hospitals

Did you know that the rural areas of Tennessee are losing more hospitals than any other state in the country? For some time now rural hospitals in our state have been in a state of struggle due to a plethora of causes. Lack of funding from the state level, outdated and maintenance heavy equipment, and lowering population counts are all factors that have contributed to this decline. Rural healthcare facilities are critical to the well-being and upkeep of small communities across the country, but these hospitals are closing at a rapid pace. According to research from the University of North Carolina, we have lost 138 hospitals since November of 2010, with a count of 19 in 2020. Remember, this is Tennessee alone.

An article from The Daily Yonder states: "There are a number of reasons why: Rural hospitals operate under perilously tight margins; many are in the red. Buildings and equipment are commonly old and costly to maintain. Rural hospitals serve declining populations – young people leave in search of opportunities – populations that are, on average, less healthy and of lower income, with a higher percentage who are under- or uninsured."

What can be done to assist our hospitals in need?

Governor Bill Lee , who recently visited our facility on his way to a "Helping a Hero" celebration, announced earlier this year that the state of TN would be implementing $18.6m to attract 150 new primary care physicians to rural locations. This is a huge step to generating interest in returning primary care practices and high-quality physicians back to our states countryside where they are so desperately needed.

What can be done as a citizen of a small Tennessee town? It is quite simple. Use your local facilities, and your local doctors! Declining business is a real threat to the health of these communities as metropolitan hospitals take business from smaller facilities. It is a communities duty to look out for the small hospitals and providers that also look out for the community. Without them, there would be nowhere to go in the case of major time-sensitive emergencies, or a standard checkup close to home.

You can read here: about the dangers of these declines, and what they mean for residents of our small towns.

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