What is the effect of urban hospital closings on access to care for low-income people of color?: a case study of Washington, D.C.
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The closings of urban hospitals have been harming vulnerable populations throughout the United States for over 50 years. Traditional views of health care access and bed-to-population ratios have allowed and, in some cases, directly caused the closing of hospitals in urban settings. The Urban Hospital Closings Study is a multi-decade investigation of causes of hospital closings, relocations, and mergers, and also their effects on access, cost, and delivery of care. From 1936 to 2010, a large portion of hospitals located in minority areas of U.S. cities closed or relocated. Washington, D.C. has suffered the loss of 12 hospitals since 1936. The shuttering of D.C. General Hospital, in particular, has proven to be detrimental to underserved citizens of Washington, D.C. While eight hospitals remain open in Washington, D.C., significant clustering of these hospitals leaves the capital with a markedly unequal distribution of services, resulting in inadequate access to health care for many people. This thesis examines the controversies surrounding the closing of D.C. General and illustrates the larger issues that are plaguing hospitals in most U.S. cities.
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