Recently, the hospital leadership team of Ouachita County Medical Center in Camden, Ark., made the “heart-wrenching decision” to close a rural health clinic that the hospital had operated for 25 years. Leaders and staff also took wage cuts and reduced work hours. Take that one sad event . . . multiply it by more than 135 times over the past dozen years . . . and you’ve got some idea of the alarming economic challenges facing our nation’s rural and low-volume hospitals. Hospitals and health systems across the United States are experiencing unprecedented financial pressures right now. Labor shortages, increased expenses, and lower Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rates impact most care providers, and none more so than rural hospitals.
On this Leadership Dialogue Series podcast, AHA Board Chair Wright L. Lassiter III is joined by Peggy Abbott, CEO of Ouachita County Medical Center, to discuss how the current economic stressors are affecting the small, rural hospital she leads. Like every hospital leader, Abbott’s foremost concern is keeping the doors open and continuing to meet patients’ and community health needs. Lassiter and Abbott talk about what that’s going to take . . . what changes are needed to keep the health care system in America as we know it functioning. As Abbott says, Hospitals are too important to every community to let any hospital fail — we need every hospital.”