3-Minute case study: keeping a rural hospital open

  | August 9, 2017

What innovations drive success in healthcare? Here's a tactic from a high performer on the athenahealth network.

The problem

Like many rural hospitals, Faith Community Hospital in Jacksboro, Texas was on the edge of insolvency in 2014. And it had recently flunked a Medicare inspection due to mold and asbestos. To survive, Faith would need a new facility.

But the community had already rejected a bond issue to pay for one. And, due to an interstate highway running through town, Faith didn't qualify for Critical Access Hospitalreimbursement rates.

To make the new hospital financially feasible, Faith's new CEO Frank Beaman needed to find revenue streams other than local taxes or federal subsidies. And, he knew, the hospital would need to reach out and reconnect to its community to drive those streams.

The solution

A bank loan funded construction for the new $28 million facility. As it was designed, new services were added to draw in local people and help keep them healthy: a nourishing restaurant and a state-of-the-art wellness and fitness center. And these non-medical services would generate revenue for the hospital to help pay back the building loan.

Far from a stereotypical hospital cafeteria, the Faith Café was placed at the front of the building — and soon became one of the town's most popular dining and meeting spots. “The food is fantastic," says Clint Myrick, president of the local bank. “For the hospital to provide the option of a healthy meal, it's an anomaly in Jacksboro, where we've got a lot of barbecue, pizza, and fast food. We forget how important good nutrition is."

The hospital's fee-based Swan Family Wellness Center also attracts community members with offerings like Zumba and cycling classes, a walking track, indoor heated pool, and wellness education.

The outcome

The Faith Café is so popular it regularly caters events around town, producing “a very nice revenue stream," says Beaman. And the Wellness Center's post-holiday Shape Up in Faith Weight Loss Challenge helped residents drop a total of 1,281 pounds in just 12 weeks during its first year.

Along with a new facility, says Beaman, Faith Community Hospital “has built a culture around population health and service to our community." While rural hospitals continue to close across the country, in Jacksboro, Texas, the hospital's doors are wide open as residents come in for medical care, a workout, or a good meal.

Erin Graham is a writer based in western Massachusetts.

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3-Minute case study: keeping a rural hospital open