Ms. Brystana Kaufman, graduate student in health policy and management at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, is first author of an article selected as The Journal of Rural Health’s inaugural Article of the Year.
The article, “The Rising Rate of Rural Hospital Closures,” published in the journal’s winter 2016 print issue, was co-authored by Ms. Sharita R. Thomas, Mr. Randy K. Randolph, Ms. Julie R. Perry and Ms. Kristie W. Thompson, of the UNC Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research; Dr. Mark Holmes, associate professor of health policy and management at the Gillings School and director of the Sheps Center; and Dr. George H. Pink, Humana Distinguished Professor of health policy and management.
[Photo: “A rural hospital closure has a major impact on the community, not only on its health but on its economy,” said the lead author of an award-winning article about the state of rural health care. Photo by Relvax.]
“A rural hospital closure has a major impact on the community, not only on its health but on its economy,” Ms. Kaufman said. “This study was a formative step in understanding recent trends in rural hospital closure. Rural hospitals that closed from 2010 through 2014 had lower levels of profitability, liquidity, equity, patient volume and staffing.”
Ms. Kaufman said that although half of the closed hospitals continued to provide health care services other than acute inpatient care, many stopped providing any health services.
“A deeper understanding of the causes and ramifications of closures is necessary if we are to address this issue,” she said.
Criteria for selecting the Article of the Year included the number of times it was downloaded from the journal’s website and the editorial board’s determination of its importance to the field of rural health.
“The editor of the JRH and its editorial board believe that this article addresses a vital issue facing rural health care delivery,” said Dr. Kevin Bennett, chair of the editorial board. “Hospital closures will continue to have a detrimental impact if not addressed, and our journal is pleased to disseminate these important findings.”
Mr. Alan Morgan, chief executive officer of the National Rural Health Association (NRHA), said the association was proud to recognize important research that examined recent trends in hospital closure.
“Our research community plays a key role in the development of good public policy, Mr. Morgan said. “We are excited to launch this new national recognition which highlights the importance of rural research.”
The JRH is a quarterly peer-reviewed journal published by the NRHA. It is devoted to advancing professional practice, research, theory development and public policy related to rural health.
The NRHA is a national nonprofit membership organization that aims to improve the health of rural Americans and to provide leadership on rural health issues through advocacy, communications, education and research.
Ms. Kaufman and her colleagues were recognized at the NRHA’s annual conference on May 11 in San Diego.