Rural Americans live an average 10.5 miles or 17 minutes from the nearest hospital, according to a new analysis by the Pew Research Center. That’s about twice as far and five to seven minutes longer than people in suburban and urban areas, respectively, with the quarter of rural Americans with the longest times averaging 34 minutes. “These findings come amid a wave of rural hospital closures in recent years that have raised concerns about access to health care,” the authors note. The AHA last year released a series of guides to help hospital and health system board members and leaders implement nine emerging strategies to preserve access to health care services in vulnerable communities, based on findings from an AHA Task Force report. The AHA's 2019 Rural Health Care Leadership Conference, Feb. 3-6 in Phoenix, will bring together top practitioners and thinkers to share strategies and resources for accelerating the shift to a more integrated and sustainable rural health system.

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