HOUSTON – Trace Regional Hospital is a top performer in the six-hospital SunLink Health system and was recently rewarded with a $1 million gift of equipment from the parent company.
“It’s like Christmas to us,” said Marianne Johnson, a Trace Regional employee. “Patients don’t always recognize when we get new equipment, but we see these beds, tables and lab equipment every day.”
Three transfer trucks pulled onto the parking lot of Trace Regional Friday and began unloading equipment from Chilton Medical Center in Clanton, Ala.
SunLink decided to close that facility this spring prompting the move of equipment to Trace Regional and other SunLink hospitals across the south.
“When the decision was made to close Chilton they told us we had performed so well that we could get any of their equipment we wanted,” said Trace Regional Administrator Gary Staten. “We quickly made a trip over there to see what they had.”
Staten said the bulk of the items picked up are hospital beds, bedside tables, night stands, chairs and office furniture.
“Our people sat down and looked at their inventory and immediately saw they had several pieces of equipment we could use right away,” said Staten. “This is top quality stuff and we are proud to get it.”
New machines and specialized equipment ranged from beds for patients up to 500-pounds to high-powered microscopes and X-ray equipment and monitors.
“We picked up one piece of radiological equipment that is valued at roughly $192,000,” said Staten. “And we got all this for free.”
Staten said hospitals are a business and do pass along all purchases to patients in some form or the other.
Staten said in these days of a rapidly changing health-care landscape, rural hospitals are feeling the pinch as state and federal dollars dry up.
“I have always felt the level of care at any hospital has little to do with equipment and more to do with the quaility of the physicians, nurses and staff,” said Staten. “We have been frugal with purchases and our staff and physicians have gone the extra mile to ensure top quality care for our patients.
“SunLink realized we have not gone out and spent a lot of money on the latest gadgets,” he added. “This is their reward for a job well done.”
Staten said the closing of Chilton Medical Center has created a huge gap in the quality of health care provided in Clanton.
“They are a town larger than us and like us are deeply rooted in agriculture,” said Staten. “Communities can and do lose their hospitals, I am proud to say that doesn’t look to be the case for Houston and Trace Regional.”
But Staten said if Mississippi does not accept and release federal Medicaid dollars to rural hospitals, facilities in other parts of the state will probably close.
“We have a lot patients on Medicaid in this part of the state,” said Staten. “But what Medicaid doesn’t cover and what the patient can’t pay has to be absorbed by the hospital.”
As with all healthcare equipment, Staten said extreme care was taken to keep equipment sanitary and undamaged in transport.
“We have been working on this transfer for over a month and the actual move took about three days,” said Staten. “A lot of people did a lot of hard, manual labor to bring this windfall to Trace Regional Hospital.”