The COVID-19 pandemic initially struck hardest in densely populated metro areas, but as the virus continues to spread its effects on strained rural health systems and the typically older, sicker populations they serve are stark. Unlike many urban and suburban areas, rural hospitals may not have the capacity to care for significant numbers of COVID-19 patients with fewer physicians per capita, fewer supplies, and greater financial distress. By analyzing the response of Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) to this pandemic, this project aims to better understand the needs of rural hospitals facing similar scenarios in the future and to identify best practices in providing quality care to those communities. Specifically, the project will focus on four elements of pandemic response using survey data in eight states to assess:
- CAH workforce;
- Patient treatment;
- CAH organizational and community relationships;
- Financial issues.