Friday, April 10, 2020

Small-Town Hospitals Are Closing Just As Coronavirus Arrives In Rural America

The recently closed Pickens County Medical Center in Carrollton, Ala., is one of the latest health care facilities to fall victim to a wave of rural hospital shutdowns across the U.S. in recent years. With hundreds of hospitals endangered, residents are worried about getting health care amid the coronavirus outbreak. Jay Reeves/AP

By Kirk Siegler

By this time next week, Decatur County, Tenn., will have lost its only hospital, Decatur County General, which has been serving the rural community of about 12,000 people along the Tennessee River since 1963.

The hospital's human resources director, Melinda Hays-Kirkwood, has already begun laying off people, and she says by next week only a skeleton staff will remain.

"It's hard on these employees that have been here a long time. I've got people who have been here for 30 years," Hays-Kirkwood says. "For some people, this has been their only job out of college."  Read more >>