The Impact of COVID-19 on Small and Rural Hospitals

At small rural hospitals, the challenges of fighting COVID-19 can be particularly intense. Staff on the front lines at Margaret Mary Health (MMH) in Batesville, Ind., shared “A View from the Frontlines of the COVID Pandemic” with their community. MMH has had 37% of lab tests come back positive for COVID-19, much higher than the 20% the state of Indiana had observed, on average. In the video, William Lovett, M.D., observed that he could count on two hands the number of times the hospital had used a ventilator since 2002, when he arrived. But at the current time, he noted that six patients at the hospital were on ventilators.

In small and large communities, the impact on health care workers and patients is challenging, physically and emotionally. The MMH team has cared for a husband and wife at the same time in two cases, and three people from the same family.

Educational efforts like this video are making a positive difference. Proper social distancing and other prevention practices are slowing the movement of the virus and saving lives in small communities like Batesville. The AHA Members in Action rural COVID-19 case study “Surviving a COVID-19 Surge” describes MMH’s multiphase approach during the pandemic.