The number of emergency department visits also grew by 6 percent, according to AHA DataViewer. At the same time, rural hospitals boosted their workforce: the number of FTEs increased by 7 percent.

Although rural hospitals had more than 4 million inpatient admissions in 2013, that number represents a 17 percent decline in admissions since 2006. The number of births dropped by 8 percent during the same period. Rural hospitals also reduced the number of staffed beds by 11 percent. Overall, the total number of rural hospitals declined by 1 percent.

The American Hospital Association defines rural hospitals as those that meet the Office of Management and Budget’s definitions for rural (located outside a metropolitan statistical area) and micropolitan (located in areas that have a core urban area of 10,000–50,000 people). According to the 2010 U.S. Census, 19 percent of the population lives in rural areas.

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