The COVID-19 pandemic had a profound impact on Missouri’s hospitals, specifically its rural hospitals.
Their existing challenges of caring for patients who are older, sicker and less likely to be insured, have been compounded by COVID-19. Rural hospitals now face financial uncertainty, unprecedented workforce challenges, and new demands for large-scale response through testing, treatment and vaccination.
Along with the immense challenges came opportunities. COVID-19 served as a catalyst to reimagine rural health. Telehealth increased significantly — for provider collaboration and education — and for patient care. A priority before COVID-19, broadband expansion efforts were revitalized with new federal and state spending. Although workforce challenges persist, the pandemic underscored the importance of health care access, and exposed a generation of future health care workers to the rewards of caring for their communities.
Through this infographic, the Missouri Hospital Association hopes to raise awareness about rural hospitals’ unique challenges, and remind policymakers to support policies that encourage strong, sustainable rural health care.