GARDEN CITY, Kansas – In rural areas like western Kansas, a lack of resources, medical professionals, and long distances between patients and their caregivers can make rural healthcare a challenge.
“We have some great people in our hospitals, and they do an awesome job under some pretty difficult circumstances sometimes,” said Mary Adam, the Executive Director of the Pioneer Health Network.
The PHN connects 19 Western Kansas hospitals in an effort to strengthen rural healthcare. They all work together to pool their resources to give Western Kansans the best medical care they can.
“Our hospitals are so small they can’t do it all by themselves, so it just makes sense to join forces and combine our strengths,” said Adam.
At their Annual Trustee Conference in Garden City on Thursday, they furthered their efforts to open up dialogue between hospitals.
A big focus was on changes brought on by the affordable care act, like funding the switch from paper to electronic records with small budgets, and enticing new doctors to move to the region.
“Rural Kansas has so many things to offer,” said President and CEO of the Kansas Hospital Association, Tom Bell, “but you have to be able to get folks to come and take a look and with all the uncertainty in healthcare that’s really difficult.”
They also touched on technological advances. Hamilton County Hospital is one of a few in the network that is able to use tele-medicine.
“Trough tele-medicine the doctors can beam in through a robot and see patients in our hospital,” said CEO of Hamilton County Hospital, Bryan Coffe. “So, it’s a way to bridge the gap between rural hospitals and doctors in big cities.”
It’s a tool they hope will make it to all of our rural hospitals in the near future.