COVID-19Hospitals

Small-Town Hospitals Are Closing Just As Coronavirus Arrives In Rural America

April 9, 2020 / KIRK SIEGLER

By this time next week, Decatur County, Tenn., will have lost its only hospital, Decatur County General, which has been serving the rural community of about 12,000 people along the Tennessee River since 1963.

The hospital’s human resources director, Melinda Hays-Kirkwood, has already begun laying off people, and she says by next week only a skeleton staff will remain.

“It’s hard on these employees that have been here a long time. I’ve got people who have been here for 30 years,” Hays-Kirkwood says. “For some people, this has been their only job out of college.”

The closure will have a huge economic toll locally — with more than 100 on staff, the hospital was one of the county’s largest employers. But the ironic timing isn’t lost on its staff either. Because of the COVID-19 crisis, most nonessential businesses in the area were already closed.

“It’s a difficult time to be shutting down a hospital in the middle of the coronavirus,” Hays-Kirkwood says.

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Josh Sandberg

Josh Sandberg is the President and CEO of Ortho Spine Partners and sits on several company and industry related Boards. He also is the Creator and Editor of OrthoSpineNews.

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