- Associated Press - Friday, May 1, 2015

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - A health care industry consulting firm says about 9 percent of rural hospitals in South Dakota are vulnerable to closure.

The estimate comes from iVantage Health Analytics, a Maine-based firm that compiles a hospital strength index based on data about financial stability, patients and quality indicators.

Fifty hospitals in rural America have closed since 2010, and the pace has been accelerating. So far, only one South Dakota hospital - Hoven’s Holy Infant Hospital - has closed.

The hospital closures are forcing many Americans in small communities to travel much farther for medical care. The hospitals cite changing demographics, medical practices and management decisions. They’ve also been affected by federal policies that put more financial pressure on facilities that sometimes only see a few in-patients a day.

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