The loss of the hospital was devastating for the future of Bourbon County in general, and economic development in particular. Via Christi and CHC have filled in some of the gaps, but the lack of inpatient beds and some other services are real barriers.
Simply put, when companies have a choice as to where to put their next location, health care is near the top of the list. When people approach retirement age and are looking for a comfortable place to spend their golden years, health care options are a critical driver in the decision-making process. Without a hospital, we don’t measure up.
This is why health care and the hospital building have been Job One for Bourbon County REDI and our new Economic Development Director, Rob Harrington. Mr. Harrington hit the ground running on the topic, reaching out to his contacts in the health care field, landing a real opportunity to reopen our hospital.
Noble Health Corporation has spent much time and many resources in our community over the last two months, considering bringing their expertise in rural health to Bourbon County and our shuttered hospital building. I have met with them several times, as have many of our community leaders, and I have found them competent and compassionate. We have done the work to research their backgrounds and performances in other communities, and we have been impressed with what we have learned.
This group understands that health care in a community is a partnership. It requires listening as well as communicating, giving as well as taking, and learning as well as teaching. A “here it is, take it or leave it” approach will not be effective.
Our community has invested significant dollars in the feasibility process, which is ongoing. This appears to me to have been the right decision. This is a credible company, and gives us the best chance to reopen our hospital in the near future.
One caveat: we can’t expect the hospital to reopen and be all things to all people from the start. We can’t expect to see a high number of beds online. Services will be offered that make sense in our community. An operator cannot make huge investments in equipment and services that are lightly used. We may still have to be referred elsewhere for some tests and procedures that were formerly offered in-house.
If called upon, I hope you will join me in supporting the feasibility research now being performed by Noble Health Corporation. Let’s all pull together to see what we can do to get back on the quality health care map in SEK.