Hospitals, doctors moving out of poor city neighborhoods to more affluent areas

Source: Lillian Thomas, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 14, 2014

Hospitals and family doctors, the mainstays of health care, are pulling out of poor city neighborhoods, where the sickest populations live…. The Post-Gazette/Journal Sentinel analysis shows that nearly two-thirds of the roughly 230 hospitals opened since 2000 are in wealthier, often suburban, areas. As health systems open those facilities, they have been closing their urban counterparts. The number of hospitals in 52 major cities in the United States has fallen from its peak of 781 in 1970 to 426 in 2010, a drop of nearly 46%, according to a separate study…. Between 1990 and 2010 alone, 148 nonprofit hospitals closed in the largest American cities, along with 53 for-profit hospitals. In addition, five public hospitals closed, according to Alan Sager of Boston University, who has tracked and studied hospital closures in the United States. His research shows it’s not just poor-performing hospitals being closed; the ones that shut down often are rated as being more efficient than those that remain…. The shifting economics of health care pulled hospitals from what had once been their primary purpose: serving the needy. As hospitals saw poor patients as toxic to their financial health, the percentage of charitable care given by U.S. hospitals dropped…..