WEST JEFFERSON-There was once a time that locals were forced to drive “off the mountain” to obtain top notch health care from the region’s leading specialists.
Whether it was to see an oncologist or a highly skilled pediatrician, Ashe County patients many times turned their eyes toward greener pastures when it came time to receive specialty care.
Those times, however, are changing thanks to strides made by Ashe Memorial Hospital and Novant Health. Company and hospital officials say local patients are reaping the benefits of quality health care that is now available right here at home.
This developing philosophy of “Keeping care local” was the capstone speech by the hospital’s management team during the 2016 Ashe County Chamber of Commerce’s annual luncheon on May 17.
Over a light lunch, the hospital’s team regaled attendees of the hospital’s many accomplishments since taking control of the provider in 2013 and the challenges the provider will be facing in the coming years due to possible changes to the Affordable Care Act and the evolving nature of the health care industry.
When Novant first took control of the hospital’s day-to-day operations, the management team listed four goals that demanded their immediate attention, said Chief Financial Officer Curt Shaw, who was one of two keynote speakers at Tuesday’s luncheon.
Along with stabilizing the hospital, which included making certain calls that didn’t necessarily “feel good,” Novant needed to obtain a new high performing CEO, said Shaw. That turned out to be Laura Lambeth, who has helped spearhead Novant’s initiatives at AMH.
In the spirit of returning to the program’s overarching theme of localized care, Shaw said Novant then went about recruiting new positions that would expand services to the community so Ashe County patients wouldn’t have to “drive down the road” in search of care.
Lately, the company has turned it attention to updating the hospital’s dated emergency department. Lambeth was subsequently able to help raise more than $2 million dollar for the department.
“When you get all these things right, you see what Ashe Memorial is today,” said Shaw. “We couldn’t be happier to be here.”
Margaret DeNarvaez, president of Novant’s shared services division, spoke to the programs guests, which mostly included chamber members and business owners, on the importance of rural health care facilities.
She said that 23 percent of the nation’s population receives health care from a rural facility and that hospitals like AMH are often the top employers in their community.
The hospital is also in “prime position” to weather the storm looming on the horizon with possible changes coming under a new president. The goal is to keep health care affordable, she said.
“The best, cheapest care is local health centers,” she said.
Reach Jesse Campbell at 336-846-7164.