Effects of COVID-19 on Rural Hospitals

In the event of a natural disaster, there are many immediate priorities communities must act on: distributing food to the needy, overcrowded hospitals, cleaning up roads and debris, relocating large populations, and providing monetary relief to those affected. Unfortunately, small, family owned healthcare clinics are often overlooked in this effort – local governments too often focus the bulk of their attention on larger organizations and the other pressing issues at hand. 

In fact, a survey conducted by The Physicians Foundation recently found that 49% of healthcare clinics reported a reduction in income during the COVID-19 crisis. Moreover, 68% of independent physicians experienced a more drastic reduction in income than physicians who were employed by a hospital or health system. Yet, while some smaller organizations receive immediate aid, it often isn’t enough to ensure that they can rebuild their business and ensure long-term growth and success.

“Because government-provided relief options are often difficult to navigate during a crisis, small businesses temporarily shut down. This causes patients to seek care in larger hospital chains, so these hospitals become strained and oversaturated.”

Understandably, the people staffing these clinics are encumbered by a litany of short-term problems that drain their attention – expecting them to also navigate the bureaucratic world of government aid is often unrealistic. 

When the COVID-19 pandemic first began, you probably saw headline after headline, describing horrific scenes at healthcare facilities across the US. We all remember images of hospital beds filling, tents frantically being pitched in parking lots, and even aircraft carriers off the East and West coast doing all that they could to mitigate the worst possible outcomes of the crisis as it was unfolding. 

When such pressing problems rear their ugly head, governments feed as much capital as they can towards large entities, expecting them to have the best chance at stopping the spread of the disease. But while billions of dollars fed into corporate hospitals, a much smaller amount was given to local community hospitals, even though they were also filling up and in need of assistance.

The issue then becomes something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

Because government-provided relief options are often difficult to navigate during a crisis, small businesses temporarily shut down. This causes patients to seek care in larger hospital chains, so these hospitals become strained and oversaturated. Then, because the hospitals are oversaturated, the government sends a stimulus to the large hospitals, allowing them to take in more patients. Due to lack of funding, the small businesses begin to permanently dissolve, limiting the options for patients who need care and further disrupting the accessibility of healthcare as a whole.  

All the while this issue could have been avoided (or at least mitigated) had the small healthcare companies been able to stay afloat from the start.

Before HSRE, these clinics have not received the resources they need to recover and grow sustainably. 

That’s where we step in.

Following the COVID-19 crisis, we founded the Healthcare Sustainability and Relief Effort (HSRE) to address exactly these issues. Our mission is to close the gap in disaster assistance by providing long-term support in the community for small healthcare organizations nationwide impacted not only by COVID-19, but also by other regional and national disasters as they happen. 

Instead of being an entity that just sits and waits for applicants, we mobilize when disasters strike and let potential beneficiaries know we’re here to help. We make it easy for them to apply for our services and take the stress of seeking assistance off their plates. We also provide assistance with every step of the disaster recovery journey to ensure a complete and sustainable recovery. 

We not only help these small businesses stay open during disasters, but also educate them on the processes to apply for charitable relief and long-term growth strategies. We proactively provide guidance by means of consulting services, educational guidance, and personalized assistance as needed.

In short, we at HSRE have identified an under-reported problem and we have mobilized our staff to tackle it head on. Together, we will put an end to hospital overcrowding and ensure all healthcare organizations, regardless of size, can grow and serve the community. 

Want to help us on our mission? 
We are accepting donations here.

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