20-bed critical access hospital in North Carolina to close Dec. 31

After serving area residents for nearly 70 years, Our Community Hospital, a 20-bed critical access hospital in Scotland Neck, N.C., will cease acute inpatient, outpatient and emergency services Dec. 31.

The hospital is shutting down due to financial challenges. After losing money for eight years, the hospital's board ran out of options to keep the facility financially viable, Tom Majure, the hospital's administrator, told North Carolina Health News.

Like many other rural hospitals across the nation, Our Community Hospital struggled to bring in revenue due to shrinking patient volume and an unfavorable payer mix. Seventy percent of the hospital's patients were on Medicaid or Medicare and another 20 percent were self-pay. Many of the less than 10 percent of patients with private health insurance had plans with high-deductibles they could not afford to pay. The hospital recorded a $1.2 million loss on $4 million in revenue last year, Mr. Majure told North Carolina Health News.

Although Scotland Neck is losing its hospital, residents will still have access to non-hospital care in their community, including a federally qualified community health center. After Our Community Hospital closes, patients in and around Scotland Neck will likely travel about 20 miles to receive care at Vidant Edgecombe Hospital in Tarboro, N.C., according to the report.  

Mr. Majure said the hospital's 60-bed nursing home will not shut down, and a portion of the inpatient hospital rooms may be converted to private nursing home rooms. "The board was adamant about trying to keep what we could here," he told North Carolina Health News. "[We] wanted to continue to provide something for the community."

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