By Jackie Medland
Chief Executive Officer/Chief Nursing Officer, Highlands-Cashiers Hospital
The 60-plus-year healthcare legacy that started humbly in Highlands and expanded to the Cashiers community is a rare gem that community members and providers alike cherish. We’re uniquely fortunate that the high caliber of care available here remains a constant. We’re also uniquely challenged by the same trials that rural healthcare facilities all across the country face, such as access to specialty care and physician shortages.
We’re actively searching to recruit replacements for two physicians in our own community. Fortunately, that effort is bolstered by the added support of HCA Healthcare, which has broad access to physicians throughout the country, including newly graduating physicians. The HCA recruitment team has notified us that our need is one of their top recruitment priorities – so much so that their physician recruitment team from Nashville visited us recently. They were accompanied by our newly appointed President, Greg Lowe, and our new Chief Financial Officer, Terence van Arkel. The team made it clear that they wanted to fully understand our unique situation, in order to honor their sincere commitment to addressing this community’s need for clinicians.
Despite the changes that are happening in healthcare and our community, we want to convey a simple message: We aren’t going anywhere. We are taking immediate steps to do all we can to fill this temporary gap in care and want community members to be aware of all available care options in this interim period. Most include taking advantage of the considerable expertise of providers from other parts of Mission Health (just one reason why it’s great to be part of a health system):
- We’ve added a nurse practitioner to our provider team at the Cashiers Clinic to respond to the increased demands for medical care during “season.”
- Many don’t know that our walk-in clinics are open for business as usual; they offer care for patients who come in with acute needs, like a fever or a twisted ankle.
- The Mission Virtual Clinic  offers services via an app on your phone, from 7am-11pm, seven days a week; for $25, you can visit with a physician online. After a few screening questions, you are connected to a physician in real time who can treat minor ailments like urinary tract infections, certain skin conditions and allergies.
- Our community has access to a wide range of telehealth services, which allow you to consult with a specialist in-person, remotely; some examples of this type of care are tele-behavioral health, tele-orthopedics and tele-vein.
- We’ll take advantage of “expertise on loan” by consulting with other physicians as needed within the health system to support patient care.
Though our current need is temporary, it is real. We remain committed to providing care through a variety of viable means that pose as little disruption as possible for our community members, especially our neighbors in Cashiers. As always, our priority remains devoting our energies to making our community stronger and healthier.
Jacqueline Medland, PhD, RN, is Chief Executive Officer and Chief Nursing Officer of Highlands-Cashiers Hospital. Jackie has enjoyed a career as a healthcare leader for over 30 years, including positions in direct patient care, advanced practice nursing, nursing management and hospital administration. Jackie received her MSN from the University of Illinois, College of Nursing, and her PhD in Organization Development from Benedictine University. She is a member of the American Association of Critical Care Nurses, the American Organization of Nurses Executives, the Illinois Organization of Nursing Leaders and Sigma Theta Tau. Jackie’s unique leadership and mentorship was recognized by the University of Illinois, College of Nursing with the Sage Award.