By Carol Wolfenbarger
President, McDowell Hospital
As we end the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, I want to extend our thanks, on behalf of McDowell Hospital and its caregivers, for supporting us in all the ways that you do. Whether investing your trust in us and the care we provide, volunteering in some capacity at the hospital, or supporting us financially, your steadfast support through both the good times and challenging times is so appreciated.
Thanksgiving is a time of reflection and giving thanks. Among the many things I am grateful for is our membership in Mission Health. We are strengthened in so many different ways by our partnership with Mission Health and would not be the same without it. First, we have a level of protection from the many threats that we see closing rural hospitals nationwide, and we are blessed with the Mission’s deep expertise that would be impossible to provide ourselves. North Carolina is not immune to the many threats facing rural hospitals as we just saw that Sentara Medical Center in Kitty Hawk will be closing its doors in December, yet another facility loss in our state. A major reason for the closure is that the facility itself is in need of so much renovation and repair, it can no longer provide sufficient and safe care to patients. Not so in McDowell County, as Mission Health is investing over $47 million in a brand new, state-of-the-art facility here to support care for decades to come.
According to the National Rural Health Association (NRHA), challenges that hospitals like McDowell face include difficulty in recruiting and retaining physicians and other caregivers, the worsening of chronic health problems that are created by socioeconomic disparities in rural areas, and less overall access to care due to a variety of obstacles, including the likelihood that patients are uninsured and or have transportation issues.
Being a part of the Mission Health system promotes important access to healthcare and specialized skills as needs arise in our community. Today, clinical experts at Mission Hospital provide support for the care delivered locally through remote monitoring, teleservices and more. At the same time, our membership allows us to obtain and enjoy system-wide efficiencies that help ensure access to services, both in the community and at Mission Hospital.
We are very fortunate because our new hospital will offer expanded and enhanced emergency services to the community, state-of-the-art imaging capabilities, larger patient rooms, and expanded, technology-outfitted operating rooms. The new McDowell Hospital will also offer two critically important services to patients: access to telehealth services, whereby community members will be able to consult with specialists in Asheville, and an intentionally-designed safe area in our emergency department to care for behavioral health patients while they await transfer to an appropriate facility.
We at McDowell Hospital want to extend our sincere thanks to our community as we look toward a bright future focused on growth and increased patient access to primary care. We remain committed to treating our community in the most innovative ways possible, but without any compromise in compassion – the personal touch that is our hallmark.