Travel Distance and Distribution of Minnesota Hospitals Providing Maternity Services

Authors: Patrick N Bright*, University of Minnesota Medical School - Duluth Campus, Emily C Onello, University of Minnesota Medical School - Duluth Campus, James G Boulger, University of Minnesota Medical School - Duluth Campus
Topics: Medical and Health Geography
Keywords: medical geography, hospitals, health care, rural, maternity care
Session Type: Poster
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In the United States, there is significant concern about ongoing closures of rural maternity wards and how rural women will access maternity care for optimal outcomes. Reasons for closures are numerous, and issues complex, but it appears that in Minnesota the situation may not be as dire. Our study seeks to provide a picture of maternity care in the state of Minnesota through a mixed methods analysis of surveying Minnesota hospitals, and examining spatially how maternity care is distributed.

Through our survey instrument and verification, we found that approximately half of Minnesota’s critical access hospitals and all but one short-term hospital offer maternity services. Using GIS to construct service areas of 25-mile driving distances to these hospitals, only approximately 47% of the state’s square mileage is covered by the facilities offering maternity care. Much of the remaining 53% is considered rural by several standards. While the situation in Minnesota may not be as dire as other states, the lack of care in several rural areas of the state raises concerns over accessibility eventual health outcomes.

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