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How Chicago journalist used data to show how population and insurance shifts affect hospital vacancy

The traditional sense of a hospital is fading.

Advances in technology, changes in how doctors and hospitals are paid, and a big push toward outpatient care mean patients aren’t spending as much time in hospital beds as they used to. In Chicago in particular, huge population shifts have gutted many minority communities anchored by hospitals.

The result? A lot of empty beds. I found quite the increase in vacancy rates while analyzing state records and interviewing dozens of people for my project, Running on Empty, which included this database that readers could search for information on every hospital in Illinois.

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