MOUNT GILEAD — “Don’t Give up the Ship.” For historian Patrick Drouhard and Chairman of the Morrow County Hospital Board of Trustees, Oliver Hazard Perry’s Battle of Put-in-Bay slogan pretty well sums up the board’s resolve to keep the county’s only hospital open for business for the foreseeable future.
“Throughout this state and nation small, rural hospitals are closing at an alarming rate,” Drouhard said. “Our Board has a strategy to keep Morrow County Hospital open, while at the same time enhancing health care throughout the county.”
And what is that strategy? In a partnership agreement with its long-time manager, OhioHealth, the board would immediately turn over operation of its four primary care practices to OhioHealth, a news release issued Monday states.
This does several things. First, it adds over $2 million each year to the hospital’s financial bottom line. In addition, monies previously used to operate the primary cares can now be used for hospital operations.
The board obtained assurances from OhioHealth that the county will be able to replace doctors who retire or leave the county for other reasons.
“OhioHealth has the resources and ability to recruit doctors,” noted radiologist and Board member Dr. Vince Trago. “Physicians are key to healthcare, so this is critical,” he emphasized.
The board is also taking steps to ensure that OhioHealth will expand and enhance the primary care practices. “This will provide more robust services in each of the communities served by those physicians and practices,” board member Olen Jackson said.
The hospital currently operates primary care practices at Cardington, Northfield, Mount Gilead and The Cardinal Center.
Since 2010, more than 100 rural hospitals have closed in the United States due to decreased use of hospital services, less payment for the services provided, an increased need to provide care to those who cannot afford to pay, expense inflation and more competition.
While Morrow County Hospital has been impacted by these same kinds of challenges, it is currently in a sound financial position, with zero long-term debt, over 80 days of cash on hand, and favorable expense management. As a result, the hospital’s Board of Trustees has committed to keeping the hospital open for the foreseeable future to ensure the health and well-being of the community.
Because of healthcare’s importance to residents of Morrow County, the community is invited to a town hall meeting on Wednesday, May 8, at 7 p.m. at Cardington-Lincoln High School’s auditorium.
Attendees may submit written questions concerning the Board’s plans to keep the hospital open to be addressed by the board and its advisors, the doctors, Morrow County Hospital leadership and an OhioHealth representative.
The public is welcome.