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Rural Matters

Jul 9, 2021

In Part III of a four-part series on rural hospitals, produced in collaboration with and underwritten by the Center for Optimizing Rural Health (CORH), Michelle chats with Dr. Nancy Dickey, CORH’s Executive Director and Jon Rains, President & Chief Operating Officer and Managing Partner at Carrus Healthcare, which includes Atoka Medical Center in Oklahoma. CORH selects 30 hospitals for the HRSA-funded Vulnerable Rural Hospital Assistance Program. Those chosen for this free program, whose application period closes July 31, will have access to CORH’s team of rural health experts and receive technical support. CORH is working hard to establish depth in hospital leadership. Carrus Atoka is a 25-bed critical access hospital whose goal is to make health accessible and affordable. The keys to success for these kinds of facilities is top-notch leadership and community support, according to Dickey.  CORH provides crucial education in this space, notes Rains. Small hospitals have many challenges because of their size but they also have the opportunity to make things better for both the patients and the community, he adds. COVID taught us that smaller, rural hospitals had the capacity to deal with more acutely ill patients, asserts Dickey, and in the post-COVID era, we should capitalize on this capacity, create a new payment structure, and realize the dangers in closing local hospitals. “Rural hospitals truly save lives,” concludes Rains. This episode and the entire four-part series is sponsored by CORH,