The AHA today released a discussion guide to help hospital and health system board members and leaders implement innovative ways to preserve access to essential health care services in vulnerable rural and urban communities. The AHA’s Task Force on Ensuring Access in Vulnerable Communities recently issued a report offering a menu of options for communities at risk for losing access to essential health care services to consider based on their unique needs, support structures and preferences. “The ultimate goal is to provide vulnerable communities and the hospitals that serve them with the tools necessary to determine the essential services they should strive to maintain locally, and the delivery system options that will allow them to do so,” the guide notes. “While the task force’s focus was on vulnerable communities, these strategies may have broader applicability for all communities as hospitals redefine how they provide better, more integrated care.” To access the discussion guide, report and related resources visit The guide was released in conjunction with the AHA Rural Hospital Leadership Conference in Phoenix, where AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack hosted a live webcast with members of the task force and took questions from the audience and webcast participants.

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