This blog has previously reported on the struggle rural hospitals face to provide patients with quality care. Now, a rural hospital in Arkansas is facing $30 million in debt, citing an increase in uninsured patients, cutbacks in federal programs such as Medicaid and doctors relocating or retiring as the cause.
Putting further strain on the facility, the Memphis Business Journal reports that the hospital will be closed for at least a week as officials deal with the aftermath of a recent fire.
The fire began in an empty patient room, and there were no injuries reported. However, the fire and efforts to combat it caused "significant damage" to several facilities, including the emergency department, surgery, intensive care, radiology and others, according to the source.
The 150-bed hospital is the only care facility available to the 50,000 residents of the county. Currently, the hospital employs 420 physicians and staff workers. In order to continue providing patient care, hospital officials claim that they need support from a new tax. TheRepublic.com notes that there are currently 20 hospitals in the state of Arkansas that rely on funds from sales or property taxes.
The source quotes hospital CEO Gene Cashman on his opinion of the public's reaction. "Ninety-nine percent say they need a hospital," he told the Memphis Business Journal, "but they also say they don't have much more money to give."
A vote will take place later this month to determine if the public supports a one-cent sales tax to keep the hospital from closing its doors.
Unfortunately, this situation is all too common for rural care facilities. If your facility has had difficulty with medical claims management, consider outsourcing your medical accounts receivable in order to increase cash flow. This decision can often result in a sharp reduction in losses due to missed filing appeal deadlines.