The benefits of rural hospitals in small communities

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EUPORA, Miss. (WCBI) – North Mississippi Medical Center in Eupora celebrated a big win and its position in the community on Thursday.

NMMC Eupora won the 2019 Outstanding Mississippi Small Rural Hospital Award.

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The hospital’s focus for the award was telehealth, which is a new technology that allows medical workers to provide face-to-face care for patients through video screenings.

“We selected our telehealth program because it’s relatively new and it’s been such a resource for our patients,” said Robin Mixon, Hospital Administrator at NMMC Eupora. “It allows people in our local community to have access to specialty care without even leaving the local market.”

Hospital workers said services like telehealth highlight just one of the many reasons rural hospitals, like the one in Eupora, are so vital to the community.

“There’s been a real emphasis in the government and with Medicare and medicine in general to pull away from small hospitals,” said Dr. Charles Ozborn, Chairman of the Medical Staff.

Dr. Ozborn has been with the hospital for more than five decades and said he strongly disagrees with that notion.

“Everybody migrates to the big hospital and they get their care there, but the problem is they have to go there and be sent to the big hospital, they don’t know anybody, and the family, it’s a hardship for them to take care of them there,” said Ozborn.

The long term doctor said rural hospitals are important because they serve as a big economic impact for the community, and also provides patients the convenience of getting quality healthcare without having to leave town.

“It’s so important for the community because a lot of them can’t get to the big hospital,” Ozborn explained. “In this county especially, a lot of our patients are elderly, they don’t have transportation, they don’t have the means to go.”

Throughout the years it’s become common to see rural hospitals close up and leave town.

Now, many people in the medical field are hoping to send that trend change.

“I just hope we can encourage people in the medical community, and the people in the legislature, and people who make a difference as far as how insurances are going to pay and what we need to have to have reimbursements, so that we will be able to take better care of people, because if they don’t make it that way, they’re to make it more and more difficult for small hospitals to make it and provide this care,” Ozborn expressed.

The hospital has been a staple in Eupora for more than 50 years, and workers believe it speaks volumes to the importance of rural hospitals in small communities.

Thursday’s award was given out by the Mississippi Hospital Association.

The hospital competed with 60 medical facilities across state to win the award.

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