Funding Cuts for Rural Hospitals

President Bush is proposing to cut funding to small rural hospitals. The $39 million cut would affect rural hospitals here in our area as well as nationwide. Some rural hospitals are now trying to find funds elsewhere to stay afloat.

Dr. David Keen has been providing emergency care to residents for more than 14 years. Keen says rural hospitals like Gadsden Community provide medical assistance to those who can't afford it.

"Hospitals cannot turn patients away, so rural hospitals take up the brunt for indigent care. So if they don't get funding, then quality of care, the medications, the care suffers," says Dr. Keen.

President Bush's proposed budget for next year doesn't include money for small hospitals and hospital administrators say without federal funds some rural hospitals nationwide may be forced to close its doors.

Small rural hospitals like Gadsden depend on federal funds for training community outreach programs and equipment.

"Out reach is very important, that's when primary care takes place. When they get to the hospital primary care is important, especially with diabetes and hypertension," adds Dr. Keen.

Health disparity is a major problem in Gadsden County. Health officials fear if rural hospitals do not continue to receive funding the quality of life for residents may be jeopardized.

Gadsden County hospital administrators are now looking at other sources of funding to continue providing health care for its patients