Since 2005, more than 100 rural hospitals have closed and more are at risk. Rural hospital closures jeopardize access to emergency services in the affected communities. As communities react to and/or prepare for closures, providers and policy makers seek a viable alternative for emergency services provided in a rural hospital setting. A rural freestanding emergency department (RFED) is one potential model for providing emergency services in areas where hospitals have closed. To inform the current policy discussion around RFEDs, The North Carolina Rural Health Research Program‘s Findings Brief, Estimated Costs of Rural Freestanding Emergency Departments explains the concept of an RFED and estimates the costs of operating an RFED under three different volume scenarios.
We have also created an Excel-based tool developed to assess the financial feasibility of converting a rural hospital into a freestanding emergency department. Download the FEDFAST tool