Rural Matters Podcast Features Karen Barber & Jim Kendrick
Rural Matters, a podcast featuring issues important to Rural America, recently spoke to Karen Barber, CEO of Yoakum Community Hospital, a 25-bed critical access hospital in Texas, and Jim Kendrick, president and CEO of Community Hospital Corporation, a non-profit whose mission for 22 years has been sustaining healthcare in rural markets.
Kendrick shared that it is often difficult to recruit enough physicians to serve the community. Barber explained that her facility recently had to close their labor and delivery department as a result of an aging population, low volume for deliveries, and cuts in Medicaid reimbursement.
Because of decreased reimbursement and cutbacks by the Federal Government, rural hospitals are constantly trying to do more with less and are less able to serve as a safety net for the community. Rural hospitals need to evaluate how to ration limited resources to find innovative ways to partner with other organizations, and to deal with needed capital improvements. Yoakum Community Hospital has reached out to nearby metropolitan areas to secure the services of specialists.
A key point: Local hospitals are often the #1 employer in the community, and this can be a strong asset and essential for the survival of small rural towns. In rural markets, there’s a disproportionate percentage of uninsured patients who also cannot travel to find suitable medical care. In rural areas, many hospitals are turning into free-standing emergency facilities, which is a more limited resource for the local community.