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Rural Hospitals Continue To Struggle To Survive - KOAM TV 7

Rural Hospitals Continue To Struggle To Survive

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NEVADA, MISSOURI -

    Mercy's announcement to close their Fort Scott facility - came as a surprise to residents, but, for rural hospitals, it's no surprise at all.
    For a local business, a neighboring competitor going out of business may be good news, because it could boost their revenue.
    But for Wes Braman, the Interim CEO of the Nevada Regional Medical Center, it's a stark reminder of a harsh truth.
Wes Braman, NRMC Interim CEO: "It's devastating news to hear that, but even within the state of Missouri, nearly half the rural hospitals are struggling and in the red, and so it's a challenge everyday."
    For NRMC, it's a challenge they've been facing as well, and while the hospital is out of the emergency room, it's still an up-hill battle for recovery.
Braman: "We've reached a point where we feel like we're stable, we're not out of the woods, but we've got to work really hard and diligent everyday to control expenses and increase revenues and watch referrals and do everything we can to use Nevada first."
    Braman explains what exactly he means by "Nevada first."
    Braman: "A lot of our success will depend upon people in our own county, using Nevada first.  Not automatically jumping in the car and going to Joplin or Kansas City for health care when those services can be done here."
    In October of 2017, Freeman announced a new partnership with NRMC which Braman says has given the hospital much needed assistance.
    Braman says Freeman has been providing a lot of "behind the scenes" help with financial collections and business processes, and improving efficiency.
    But there's an added benefit to that help...
    Braman: "It's been vitally important for freeman to be here and we've even had patients say, 'hey, I may not have come here in the past, but because Freeman is associated with the hospital here', it's brought, I know at least one or two patients who have told me, I've come here, because Freeman's here.'"
    Braman says the hospital is continuing to explore options to ensure it can remain financially sustainable.

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Chris Warner
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A Joplin native, Chris first started in broadcasting at age 16 at KSNF-TV in 2004..

Chris joined the KOAM team in 2017 as an Associate Producer. In April, he moved into a full-time reporter position. He spent time from 2008 to 2016 in various retail roles around the region before returning to his passion at KOAM. Chris is excited to continue telling the stories of the four states. Chris and his wife Amber live in Joplin and have three amazing children.

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