Margaret Mary Community Hospital, Batesville, IN
Many small critical access hospitals do not have a lot of spare folks with the expertise to do the latest quality study or the latest reporting requirements for CMS or the myriad of other agencies that require onerous reporting. A lot of the hospitals have merged because of that ability to adapt to changes much more quickly.
At this point there is no advantage for us to merge. We have the capability, we’ve been successful financially, we have comparable high-quality care, and a good ability to recruit and retain physicians. Within the next five years, though, it could be like the prom: Everybody will expect you to have a date. If we looked around us and saw that every hospital was affiliated with one system or another, it inhibits our ability to work with other hospitals. It is difficult to be the only one at the prom without a date. From the quality standpoint, the mission of the small hospitals is to serve the patient population in their area to the best of their ability. Joining a system, they fear the loss of autonomy to continue to do that. The first time there is a big cut in funding the small hospitals could be the first thing on the chopping block and they won’t be able to serve their core mission.