Writer discusses the state of rural hospitals in New Mexico


Despite the plateauing of COVID-19 cases in our state, hospitals remain overfull. So much so that, on October 18, state health department officials announced that health facilities could move to a state of “crisis care standards,” which allows overstretched facilities to ration treatments and suspend procedures that are not considered medically necessary.

The designation of “crisis care standards” points to a much tougher new era of health care shortages – our local facilities are short of supplies, staff, funding and capacity. Perhaps one way to combat rising costs while preserving high-quality patient care is to pool resources from neighboring hospitals and merge facilities to help strengthen outcomes.

We know that when we lose a rural hospital – as a nation we have lost 138 since 2010 – we create a hospital “desert”, in which patients are forced to travel long distances to get to the medical facility. the closest. A 2018 Pew Research Center survey found that nearly a quarter of Americans in rural areas say access to good doctors and hospitals is a pressing issue in their community.

In Springer, we know it only too well, because it is at least a 45 minute drive from the nearest medical center.

By combining the resources of two or more nearby facilities that are stretched beyond their means, we can create a health care system that can both provide integrated and coordinated care while investing in better medical technology, electronic records systems and the expansion of specialist care and medical facilities.

In 2017, it was reported that 115 M&A transactions took place, which is a record for recent years.

A report by the Healthcare Financial Management Association predicts that this number will only increase with the emergence of price transparency and the emergence of value-based models of care. This means that patients will be able to access the same level of care at a reduced cost when hospital mergers take place, as the cost savings from combining resources will be passed on to patients.

So what’s stopping us from accessing this new system? The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) opposes hospital mergers, based on outdated data from as far back as the 1990s. Studies using old data are not helpful in an industry like health care. healthcare, where new technologies and medical breakthroughs happen almost every day.

Now, I know that I may not know as much about the political dynamics at play as federal officials in Washington, D.C., but I do know how the policies of these politicians affect those of us who live in Albuquerque . We can no longer afford to lose access to our health care system.

If that means our hospital has to partner with another hospital to continue providing the same quality of care, well, I’m all for it. And I hope our decision makers in Washington, DC, are too.

Caren Cowan