Submitted by Hugh Qualls
Mt. Grant General Hospital Administrator
There’s enough doom and gloom in the news but one statistic I read recently really hit home: since 2010, 94 rural hospitals have closed across the country, which averages to about ten a year. To give true meaning to that number, ten small towns lost their local hospital. Ten communities lost a major employer: hospitals are often the biggest in small towns, accounting for up to 20 percent of the local economy. Besides jobs, those towns lost 24/7 access to emergency care, as well as local acute care and clinic appointments. They now have to travel for these services. Some may only have to go a few miles to the next community with a hospital but even that short distance can be a challenge for the elderly, those with chronic health issues or without adequate transportation. Not the case here; Mt. Grant General Hospital is financially sound, thanks to retired administrator Richard Munger and others who dedicated themselves to assuring that your local hospital will be here for generations to come.
More good news. Recently, one of our clinic patients had to travel to California to see a specialist at a world famous medical center. This highly regarded specialist reviewed the patient’s care given by a Mt. Grant provider; she was surprised (her words) to see that our PA, from a tiny frontier health clinic, had prescribed the same exact course of treatment that she would have. Drs. Ventura and Dofeliz, APRN Tobey Morris, and PA Laura Millsap are highly skilled medical professionals, working right here in Hawthorne. We are fortunate indeed.
As you may have heard, we are in search of a new doctor—no easy task for small town hospitals across the country. Communities like Hawthorne are not for everyone, which is why it is critically important to find the right doctor who likes a rural, remote town in the high desert. Oddly enough, money isn’t usually the answer for recruiting (and keeping) a doctor. Quality of life, access to outdoor recreation, stunning skies and desert vistas will attract the doctor who is meant for us. We may have found that person but not a done deal yet; sorry to keep you in suspense, but hopeful that an official announcement can be made in February. Keep your fingers crossed!
I had the good fortune to run into Larry Jackson at the post office not too long ago; he suggested the hospital should collect contact information for local clergy. The goal being to improve communication between the hospital and the public we serve. Great idea! Thanks to Pastor Jackson, several faith leaders around the county have reached out to me. If I have overlooked anyone, please call and let me know; you will be added to the email distribution list. Many in Mineral County are still not aware of the local availability of telehealth specialist appointments, MRI and Echocardiogram exams, Community Paramedic services, the free Nurse Health Line and just recently added: VetFed Carenet (MGGH is now an official provider of diagnostic services for veterans). I want to express my gratitude as well to Pastors Reynolds, Cox, Murrey, Gibson and Douglas for joining this effort to keep their congregations informed. Many also offered to provide chaplain services when needed. Another bonus of this team effort: they can pass on to me any healthcare questions or concerns raised by their members. We are here to serve.
One last note about the Nurse Health Line: 775-341-6161 is a toll free number for cell phones but not for landlines. My apologies for earlier misinformation; hope that will not prevent you from utilizing this otherwise free service.
We are in the midst of flu season; best prevention is a flu shot and frequent hand washing.