Joining forces: RGH enters rural hospital network

Argen Duncan

A new network of small, rural hospitals Roosevelt General Hospital is participating in should provide cost savings, more information resources and an opportunity for more services, the RGH CEO said.

Seven rural hospitals with less than 50 beds received a federal grant to plan the policies and procedures of the network, said RGH CEO Larry Leaming, who has participated in such networks in other states. The $85,000 became available to the network in May.

“Small hospitals, we don’t have a whole lot of depth of resources like big hospital systems do,” Leaming said. “But if you get us together, we can do a lot of things together.”

For example, Leaming said if hospitals in the network each need the same new piece of equipment, they can save money through a bulk purchase.

Affiliation with large hospital systems — Covenant Health Systems in the case of RGH — helps with purchasing supplies but doesn’t cover everything, he said.

Also, personnel in the same jobs at different hospitals can share information and experiences with issues common to small, rural hospitals.

“Rural hospitals can really help each other by sharing information and working together to improve health care in rural New Mexico,” said Michael Carter, CEO of Miner’s Colfax Medical Center and network president, in a news release. “By working cooperatively and leveraging resources, we can strengthen all of our rural hospitals and improve the health in the communities we serve.”

For the new network, hospital representatives each contributed money to hire a grant writer. Fifteen groups in the nation were awarded the competitive hospital network planning grant, according to the release.

Leaming said organizers have picked officers and are reviewing sample bylaws. After the current one-time, one-year grant expires, Leaming said, the network will apply for a three-year development grant to implement the plans and procedures.

“Nobody’s going to come in here with a magic wand and make everything wonderful,” Leaming said. “If it’s going to happen, we’re going to have to do it.”