Trace Regional Hospital Administrator Gary Staten met with the Chickasaw County Board of Supervisors on July 7 and the Houston Board of Aldermen on July 10 to explain details of the changes and how they will affect the community.
Trace Regional began explaining details of the move to the community after they announced the change to their employees in mid June and news the emergency room was closing swept the community.
“We will be doing a number of things to educate the public over the next couple of months, explaining these changes, what new options are available and what the community needs to be aware of,” said Staten. “We will be closing our emergency room at 9 a.m. Sept. 8, and will be opening a rural health clinic that will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week.”
Staten said the change should actually make a physician more available to the public than before.
“In the past you came to the emergency room on the weekend and we had to locate a doctor to come see you,” said Staten. “Now on a Friday evening, Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon you can come to the clinic and see a doctor.”
Staten said the health clinic will still stitch up cuts, see sick babies and the elderly with aches and pains.
He did stress the clinic will close at 9 p.m. and ambulance crews will be instructed to carry true emergencies to emergency rooms in Tupelo, West Point, Amory, Starkville or Calhoun City.
“The concern will come with emergencies that come to the hospital by car,” said Staten. “We will need to educate the public that they need to go straight on to an emergency room.”
Staten said in the event of an emergency, people and industry need to call 911 and request an ambulance. He also pointed out Trace has been sending heart-attack, stroke and serious trauma and medical conditions on to Tupelo and surrounding hospitals for years.
“We understand this community and industry have relied on us and come to us when they need medical care,” said Staten. “We appreciate that trust and we are not going to stop treating people’s medical needs.
“As was quoted in the paper a couple of weeks ago, we are financially sound and Trace will continue to be a place you bring your parents, your sick baby or yourself and see a doctor or get treatment,” said Staten. “But emergency room treatment costs us much more than treatment in a clinic setting. Our company saw a nationwide trend in people coming to emergency rooms for treatment that could be handled in a clinic setting and that was financially unstable for our company and for small hospitals around the country.
“We had to make a hard decision,” Staten added. “I think we made a decision that will be best for our patients, our community and our hospital.”
The Affordable Care Act – also known as Obamacare – was supposed to require all persons to obtain some kind of health insurance but the healthcare industry is still bombarded by patients walking into an emergency room seeking care for less than life-threatening illnesses. Regional statistics indicate one in four emergency room visitors either don’t have insurance or don’t pay for services.
Emergency room care typically costs up to four times more than clinical care and when those who don’t have insurance walk out without paying, the hospital and physicians must absorb the cost.
Trace Regional Hospital is one of five hospitals operated by SunLink Health Systems, Inc., across the Southeast and Midwest in addition to a specialty pharmacy company in Louisiana.
Each SunLink facility is the only hospital in its community. SunLink’s corporate headquarters are in Atlanta.
SunLink’s operating strategy is to link patients’ needs with dedicated physicians and health professionals to deliver quality, efficient medical care in each community it serves.
Trace Regional Hospital is fully accredited by The Joint Commission. Accreditation makes a strong statement to the community regarding an organization’s efforts in providing quality services, performance improvement programs and safety which can reduce risk, error or low quality of care.
Trace Regional is a major employer in Houston and also operates Floy Dyer Manor a 66 bed nursing home.