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What has been the impact of Covid-19 on Rural Communities? According to a Center for Healthcare Quality and Payment Reform (CHQPR) research [i] , the probability of rural hospital closures has grown dramatically since the beginning of COVID-19, raising concerns about care availability and community health. The financial crisis of the rural health systems began even before the pandemic. Over a quarter of the rural hospitals in the country were at immediate risk of closure.

Pre-Covid-19 reasons for Rural Hospital Closures:

  • Persistent Financial Losses.
  • Low or Non-Existent Financial Reserves.

Covid-19 added a significant burden to the already fragile rural healthcare ecosystem. Over 40% of all rural hospitals in the country are either at immediate risk or high risk of closure.

Pre-Covid-19 reasons for Rural Hospital Closures:

  • Persistent Financial Losses.
  • High Dependence on Non-Patient Service Revenues (Funding dependency due to low or Non-Existent Financial Reserves).

For a lot of these rural communities, hospital closures have a significant impact on the health of their residents. For many isolated areas, the closure of their only hospital means that people need to travel great distances to access inpatient or emergency care. The adverse health effects are immediate, but they have a lasting impact. These communities typically see deteriorating health metrics. In addition, hospitals are a source of jobs in the community, and when they close, they leave many locals without work.

The impact of Covid-19 on rural communities is extensive. However, we do not have enough research to understand the magnitude of damage caused by the pandemic. More measuring and evaluation can help determine Covid’s impact on unemployment, overall life satisfaction, mental health, economic outlook, as well as the direct effects on physical health. Rural communities entered the fight with many vulnerabilities, and the results could be potentially devastating.

In 2020, approximately 57.23 million people were living in rural areas in the United States [ii]. As Covid-19 continues to pressure rural healthcare systems, errors and omissions in understanding and supporting these communities become more apparent. With new technology and processes becoming available, maybe the pandemic can become the catalyst of positive change. In the meantime, let’s discuss a plan that makes sense for you and your community. Let’s Connect.


  1. Hundreds of Rural Hospitals Were at Immediate Risk of Closure Before the Pandemic Hundreds More Rural Hospitals Are at High Risk of Closing in the Future. (n.d.). [online] Available at: https://ruralhospitals.chqpr.org/downloads/Rural_Hospitals_at_Risk_of_Closing.pdf.
  1. Statista. (n.d.). Size of urban and rural population of the U.S. 2019. [online] Available at: https://www.statista.com/statistics/985183/size-urban-rural-population-us/.‌

By: Erik McLaughlin MD, MPH and Aikaterini Papadopoulou, B.Arch


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Erik Mclaughlin
Erik McLaughlin MD, MPH
Chief Medical Officer
Innovative Solutions for your Healthcare Needs

My team consists of a variety of healthcare experts that are at your disposal. For insight into how we can figure out solutions for your community, let’s talk.