The small town of Bowie, Texas, US, is trying to save some of its health care services and may act as a case study for other rural areas. The model taking shaping in Bowie exemplifies an emerging idea for rescuing hundreds of failing rural hospitals — just as federal dollars that have helped many hospitals stave off collapse during the Covid-19 pandemic are rapidly drying up. The goal of the federal Rural Emergency Hospital program, approved by Congress in 2020 and launched in January, is to preserve at least some health care services in rural communities that can’t support a full-fledged hospital. Having closed before the Rural Emergency Hospital program launched, Bowie Memorial Hospital it isn’t eligible to participate. However, the town’s pursuit of the same strategy independently makes it a case study for how the program might play out elsewhere. Other hospitals across Texas are considering changing their model under the Rural Emergency Hospital program, as are hundreds of failing hospitals in other states.

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