Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

November 20, 2013

DCMH to receive national award

By Rob Cox Daily News
Greensburg Daily News

---- — GREENSBURG — On Thursday morning, Decatur County Memorial Hospital (DCMH) will be formally presented with the Critical Access Hospital Recognition Award, bestowed by the National Rural Health Resource Center (NRHRC).

According to a press release, the award recognizes critical access hospitals (CAH) throughout the country like DCMH for “excellence and innovation in community engagement.”

“This year’s recipients embody both outstanding commitment to their communities and meaningful innovation,” said Terry Hill, executive director of NRHRC. “They demonstrate that rural hospitals can lead the way in the rapidly changing healthcare industry.”

DCMH Marketing and Communications Manager Lynzee McDowell characterized the award as “a really big deal,” because it recognizes DCMH as a hospital that serves a vital function in its community.

The award, she added, “says something really important about DCMH,” and the hospital’s level of success in carrying out its mission to the community. “The award falls perfectly in line with the hospital’s mission statement,” McDowell said, “which is to advance the health and wellness of our community by providing high-value, patient-centered care, leadership and education. Our sole purpose at DCMH is to serve the community. This award is confirmation we’re achieving that goal.”

The award ceremony will coincide with the third annual National Rural Health Day, which celebrates and recognizes the important role of small-town hospitals like DCMH in the communities they serve. A fundamental part of the definition of a CAH, in fact, is that it must be rurally based.

According to McDowell, other criteria factoring into the definition include the number of beds, the average annual length of stay for patients, geographical location and other factors.

DCMH meets all of the formal criteria of a CAH, of course, but for McDowell, the most important practical function of a CAH – indeed, DCMH’s most important practical function – lies in its relationship with and importance to the community it serves.

“It’s important for our community to know they can choose to obtain their healthcare services locally, right here in Decatur County,” she said. “Many times, patients will see a doctor and the doctor suggests they go to Indianapolis or Cincinnati or elsewhere for specialized treatment. But we want patients to realize they have the same big-city options for care right here at home through DCMH. That’s why we did our Choose Campaign.”

The Choose Campaign, McDowell further explained, was launched by DCMH in January, as a way to inform Decatur Countians regarding the numerous healthcare options available at DCMH.

“The idea for that campaign,” McDowell explained, “came from a testimonial by [DCMH Patient] Amy Reynolds. Her doctor recommended she go to Indianapolis for painful wound-care treatments on her foot. She wasn’t satisfied and asked ‘are there local options?’ There WERE local options right here at DCMH. Receiving care here allowed her to avoid a painful, hour-long drive back and forth to Indianapolis for each treatment. We want Decatur Countians to know that we have those big-city medicine features.”

Initiatives like the Choose Campaign also factored into DCMH winning the Critical Access Hospital Recognition Award. The award, according to the press release, is bestowed, in part, for “leadership engagement and communicating with patients, partners, and the community.”

The award is also based in part on “excellence and innovation in initiatives for improving population health.” DCMH, McDowell said, operates many such initiatives, including the hospital’s free annual flu clinics, health fairs, mammogram assessment program and others.

The award also recognizes hospitals for effectively “gathering data from the community and incorporating results into project planning.” For DCMH, such data has been gathered through community focus groups hosted by Hospital CEO Linda Simmons.

“We hosted focus groups in the community beginning in 2012,” McDowell said. “Through those, we found out what people wanted from the hospital. Our proposed clinic at Lake Santee is a great example of a project that came out of those focus group. Our StayWELL Clinic is another great example.”

“Engaging our patients, partners, and community members is crucial to understanding the needs of our patients and ensuring the continued success of our hospital,” Simmons said.

DCMH has also gathered important, useful data on community needs through a Community Health Needs Assessment, McDowell added.

CAH hospitals are also defined, in part, by the amount of charity or uncompensated care they provide each year. For DCMH, those amounts are substantial. “We wrote off more than $2 million in care in 2012,” McDowell said. “And we wrote off an additional $7 million in uncollected accounts.”

McDowell stressed that Thursday’s award presentation is being held to give recognition to DCMH employees, without whom such an award wouldn’t be possible.

“It’s because of the hard work of our employees we’re able to maintain our standard of excellence and our relationship with the community; they made this award possible,” she said. “We want to give people a chance to step away from their desks and celebrate this accomplishment, and to see the plaque.”

According to the press release, the Indiana State Office of Rural Health will present the award in the DCMH Conference Center on behalf of the NRHRC, with hospital staff and local and state officials in attendance.

In January, the award will be featured NRHRC’s newsletter. DCMH, the release states, is the first hospital in Indiana given the Critical Access Hospital Recognition Award. More, including DCMH, only five hospitals in the nation received the award in 2013.

For more information or questions about DCMH’s Critical Access Hospital Recognition Award, contact Lynzee McDowell at 663-1228 or at lynzee.mcdowell@dcmh.net.

Contact: Rob Cox 812-663-3111 x7011 robert.cox@greensburgdailynews.com