Date of Conferral





Health Services


Cynthia Newell


African Americans 65 and older have had varied experiences due to losing immediate access to nearby hospitals for urgent treatment for emergency medical conditions. This phenomenological study was conducted to explore the lived experiences of those residing in areas after a rural hospital closure occurred. The hospital was the primary and nearest facility for receiving immediate access to urgent treatment. The research questions focused on the encounters experienced by the participants after the hospital closure. The Health Belief Model was the conceptual framework used for this study. The method and data analysis procedures included interviews, field notes, a life-course chart, and specified demographic information. Eight African Americans 65 and older from Webster and Stewart County Georgia were interviewed. The other inclusion criteria were the participants' previously being treated for an emergency medical condition at Stewart Webster Hospital at least 1 year before the hospital closure and at another hospital at least 1 year after the hospital closure. The results of this research were that the participants encountered negative experiences on a higher level than positive experiences with accessing immediate treatment. Also, participants encountered and needed to make various, and undue changes to receive treatment for the critical medical condition treatment. The positive social change significance included providing information on experiences encountered by the participants after rural hospital closures and suggestions for others in rural areas to prepare for hospital closures. Moreover, this research could help state, local, and federal agencies provide alternatives for immediate treatment for emergency medical conditions in other rural towns after hospital closures occurred.