NC rural health care systems struggle as COVID-19 pandemic continues

North Carolina news

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Health care systems across North Carolina are dealing with the impact of the coronavirus.

For rural hospitals, it’s not just the care of patients, it’s the cost of their response. 

Rural areas are a rising concern for health officials. 

Many people living in these areas lack good insurance coverage, have chronic health conditions, or live in congregate living facilities, like nursing homes. 

RELATED: Full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak

North Carolina is in the middle of a crisis with rural hospitals facing revenue shortfalls and the possibility of closing. 

This is worrisome, especially during a global pandemic.

“This crisis is growing strong across rural America right now and it’s going to be the case over the summer months, it’s happening,” says Alan Morgan, chief executive officer of the National Rural Health Association. 

More than 60-percent of the nation’s rural hospitals have zero ICU beds. 

These facilities are also important parts of their local economies, with many jobs in the communities they serve.

People living in those communities may not know how much their neighboring hospitals are struggling.

Patrick Woodie is the President of NC Rural Center.

“We don’t think that we’ve seen the last of COVID-19 and we really believe everyone should remain diligent and really pay close attention to what you do because…the one thing you do have control over is your own actions,” he said.

Many rural health care centers are receiving federal coronavirus relief funds for their services, but industry leaders say that money won’t last.

Experts believe effective rural testing and contact tracing measures can help high risk populations in rural areas as the pandemic continues.

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