As the 2020 presidential candidates propose to fix U.S. healthcare, rural hospitals across the country continue to close. Since the 2018 midterms, about 66 percent of primary care physician shortages have been in rural and partially rural areas.
"Rural healthcare systems are fighting for their lives," according to Randall Moore, DNP, MBA, CRNA, and CEO of the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA). "Statistics remain grim."
Since 2010, 118 U.S rural hospitals have closed-;17 closures in 2019 alone, outpacing previous years. Rural closures also were associated with a 5.9 percent increase in inpatient mortality.
"Clearly the nation cannot continue to do what we have always done," said Moore. One solution gaining traction among U.S. policymakers is allowing advanced practice registered nurses, such as Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) and other advanced practice providers, to practice at the full scope of their education and training.
Fortunately, CRNAs are in rural communities- we are the sole anesthesia providers in the majority of rural hospitals, providing care ranging from surgical, obstetrical, and trauma stabilization services to interventional diagnostic and pain management services." Randall Moore, CEO of the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists
Charles Button, MBA, CEO of Regional Medical Center in Manchester, Iowa, said that utilizing a CRNA-only anesthesia delivery model "is the perfect solution."
Button's facility employs a team of CRNAs from Iowa Anesthesia, and no physician anesthesiologists. "It would become cost prohibitive to employ [physician] anesthesiologists," he said. "High quality anesthesia delivery is critical. You need someone 24/7, and CRNAs play an absolutely essential role. We are very impressed with the level of knowledge, availability, and personability of our CRNA team. We would not want it any other way. CRNAs are competent and affordable for rural America doing obstetric" and other anesthesia care. Related Stories
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