[Greensburg, IN] – The American Hospital Association (AHA) announced that Rex McKinney, president and CEO at Decatur County Memorial Hospital will serve on the AHA’s Future of Rural Health Care Task Force. The Task Force will convene July 2019 to provide strategic thought leadership on the future delivery and financing of rural health care.

“Nearly 20 percent of Americans live in rural areas. Over the years, we have seen rural communities face unique challenges that threaten their ability to maintain access to health care services,” said Joy Lewis, vice president for strategic policy planning at the American Hospital Association. “The Future of Rural Health Care Task Force will help the AHA identify future trends and emerging strategies, and develop new care delivery and stable financial models for delivering care in the 21st century that ensures access to care in rural communities.”

According to the North Carolina Rural Health Research Program, 106 rural hospitals closed between 2010 and 2019. In addition, an August 2018 Government Accountability Office report found more than twice the number of rural hospitals have closed during the last five years than the previous five-year period.

McKinney stated, “The challenges of rural healthcare are unique.  Ensuring access to quality healthcare and having sustainable models of care are essential to a thriving community.  I am pleased to play a role in shaping the future of rural health and assist with developing strategies to ensure patient care needs are met.”

Rural hospitals provide local access to essential health services and have significant economic impact on their communities. The challenges faced by rural communities are complex, requiring collaboration and thought leadership to innovate and leverage unique strategies to pave the way for the future of rural health care.