Emergency Room Access in the United States: Rural Hospital Closures

Continental US counties affected by hospital closures. Though everything else in this analysis is done with census tracts (which are subdivisions of counties), unfortunately, tracts would render the map much less legible.




71 hospitals, 134 counties, 1.6 million individuals affected

Box and whisker plot illustrating descriptive statistics for communities affected by hospital closures. Before Closure mean: 12.3 km, After Closure mean: 25.5km.
Box and whisker plot looking at the distance change for each community. 1st quartile: 3.6km, median: 11.1 km, mean: 13.2km, 3rd quartile: 20.1km

Increases in distance to care are strongly associated with an increased risk of death.

Change in access to emergency care for the 90 census tracts most heavily affected (distance is now more than 28 km away) by hospital closures. Unfortunately, tract numbers are not a very useful label. Each county generally contains many census tracts, so each entry is labeled with its county name, to give a general sense where each tract is.

Kings County: Coalinga Regional Medical Center

Kings County will have gone from the top 25th percentile of proximity to emergency room care, to the lowest 1 percentile.

What does this mean?

Hospital closures exacerbate rural health challenges.

Methods & Data Sources

Part Two:




A public health nerd. I make graphs in R.

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Maria Ma

Maria Ma

A public health nerd. I make graphs in R.

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