Rural health care options can include micro hospitals and tele-emergency departments

Written by on March 3, 2022

Rural health care options can include micro hospitals and tele-emergency departments

By Hayden Mitman
March 3, 2022

Rural communities have unique health care issues due to population and location. (Photo | Chloe Nouvelle / WLVR / File)

The state health department has created a set of guidelines aimed to better serve people living in rural communities.   

In rural areas, due to population and location, hospitals can struggle to afford inpatient facilities, according to Acting Secretary of Health Keara Klinepeter.

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She said the newly announced guidelines are intended to ensure no community goes without emergency care.  

“The department wants to support innovative ideas to ensure we are keeping pace with the changes in the healthcare landscape,” she said. “Some of these ideas that we are propagating today aren’t new but it’s our goal to make it clear to our hospitals or our health systems that these options are in front of them.” 

The models include outpatient emergency departments, tele-emergency departments, and smaller scale facilities that the DOH calls “micro-hospitals.” 

The state briefly described each delivery model option:

  • An Outpatient Emergency Department (OED) is an outpatient location of a hospital that offers only emergency services and is not located on the grounds of the main licensed hospital.
  • A Micro-Hospital is an acute care hospital that offers emergency services and maintains facilities for at least 10 inpatient beds with a narrow scope of inpatient acute care services, such as no surgical services.
  • A Tele-Emergency Department (Tele-ED) is an emergency department in an acute care or critical access hospital that is staffed by Advanced Practice Providers (APP) 24 hours per day, 7 days a week with a physician available at all times through telecommunications but not physically present in the emergency department.

Klinepeter said the facilities will help provide medical coverage in the face of new challenges, like the ongoing pandemic.

“COVID has really changed the healthcare industry and the healthcare landscape and it is, realtime, flourishing and changing before our eyes,” she said.

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