The county surpasses the state average in negative measures of population health such as per capita premature death, obesity, smoking, and excessive drinking. And there are about 2,000 county residents for every one primary care physician, which is more than three times the national benchmark. So, it probably won't help health outcomes if there is one less hospital to serve the county.
And there is the fallout in lost tax revenues and trickle-down economic activity that comes with losing 100 or so relatively well-paying jobs in a somewhat remote county with an unemployment rate of about 8.5%.
We talk a lot about hospitals as powerful economic engines for most communities, and they are. Many of these hospitals provide quality healthcare and economic stimulus with a trickle effect that improves the lives of thousands of people in the service area.
Unfortunately, in this era of tremendous flux in healthcare, an equally urgent story is that of the hospitals that teeter on insolvency, with their employees, patients and the communities they serve left anxious, angry and confused about their job prospects, care access, and economic status.