Hospitals serve as essential access points for people from all walks of life to get the care they need. Usually, when we need our local hospital, our local hospital is there—whether it is for emergency care, home health care or all services in between. But one in three hospitals in America is fighting to survive, putting many vulnerable communities at risk of losing their access to local health care services. Rural hospitals may struggle due to their remote location, workforce shortages or a failing local economy. Urban hospitals may face limited funds and resources. And problems like housing instability and food insecurity remain challenges. To address these issues, the AHA formed a task force of health care leaders who had experience with these problems, and this week we unveiled the results of their work. You can take a look for yourself at www.aha.org/ensuringaccess. The report outlines nine different strategies to help save struggling hospitals and preserve access to health care for vulnerable communities. Our solution is not “one size fits all” – each community, rural and urban, can choose the strategies that will help them best. From addressing the social determinants of health to the use of telehealth and virtual care technologies, there is something for every hospital to benefit from. Hospitals everywhere are working to redefine the “H” – to best serve their patients’ needs in a time of rapid change in the health care field. Our report provides them with the tools to be a leader in this time of transformation. After all, we’re all counting on our local hospitals, and want them to remain anchors of service in our communities.

 

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