NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Hospital Association has released a report saying the impact of rural hospitals is nearly $1 billion to the state's economy.

The association's Rural Impact Report credits the state's 61 rural hospitals with providing nearly 16,000 jobs.

THA president and CEO Craig Becker said rural hospitals are often major economic engines in their communities and frequently the only options for people who need health care.

The report says rural hospitals provided more than $292 million in uncompensated care in 2015.

Becker, in his press statement, said rural hospitals often treat older people who are likely to suffer from a number of chronic health conditions.

He said hospitals in the outlying areas face a host of challenges and are constantly under threat of having to close their doors.