Think locally: Hospitals supported by communities

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"Buy locally" isn't just a motto for coffee shops and book stores; it applies to hospitals, too.

Athens (Ala.)-Limestone Hospital CEO Kelli Powers encourages the community to go to her hospital's emergency room when they need to, the News Courier reported.

"It is so important to keep things locally, and I strive every day to tell people that if you can use Athens-Limestone Hospital, please use it," Powers said about the 101-bed nonprofit hospital. "And that's really what it's about in supporting our local hospital.

Sometimes, the biggest support for community hospitals comes from, none other, than the community it resides in.

Powers said Athens-Limestone Hospital has a relationship with other bigger hospitals, as it has a management agreement with Huntsville Hospital, which runs Madison Hospital and owns Decatur General Hospital and Parkway Medical Center. The affiliation allows Athens-Limestone to be independent, while having support from the other area hospitals.

"Right now, I think we have the best of both worlds. If I need them, they are there, but they're not over here all the time telling us everything we have to do," Powers told the newspaper.

Meanwhile, Booneville (Ark.) Community Hospital is restoring community confidence as it bounces back financially. The community has traditionally supported the hospital. Voters in 2003 approved a 1 percent sales tax to support its operation and then, in 2007, pledged one-fourth of its $400,000 annual revenue toward constructing a new $18 million facility, the Times Record reported.

New Booneville Community Hospital CEO David Hill told the newspaper that although the community at large supports the hospital, sometimes, it's trickier getting individual patients to pay up for services.

"Some can't pay and are too proud to fill out forms that would cover their bill. And some people are simply of the opinion that we are a community hospital and ought to be free," Hill said.

Still, the hospital doesn't turn anyone away, regardless of their ability to pay, as it provided $1.5 million in uncompensated care last year, the newspaper noted. "It is part of our mission," Hill said.

For more information:
- read the News Courier article
- here's the Times Record article

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