Stamford and Haskell Hospital Districts Change the Landscape of Rural Health Care with Innovative Partnership
November 19, 2019
Article by: Mary Belle Olson
Widely known as rivals during Friday Night Lights, the health care communities of Stamford and Haskell have put aside the high school rivalry to form a partnership that will provide accessible, affordable health care for the Big Country. Stamford Hospital District’s Board of Directors and Haskell Memorial Hospital have entered into an inter-local management agreement under which Haskell Memorial will manage the operations of Stamford’s rural health clinic, Stamford Family Health Center. The organizations have also signed a letter of intent as part of their due diligence as Haskell Memorial explores options to assume operations of this clinic.
“Partnering with Haskell Memorial Hospital just makes sense,” said Stamford Hospital District Board Chairman Kevin McCright. “Our rural health clinic is vital to this community, and this collaboration will benefit our patients moving forward. Both of our communities will reap the benefits of this merger.”
The rural health care climate is changing, as rural community health care systems are making tough choices and smart partnerships to survive. The partnership between Haskell Memorial Hospital and the Stamford clinic will provide more health care options with an expanded network of choices that are close to home.
“This collaboration aligns seamlessly with Haskell Memorial Hospital’s vision to improve the health of our region and reduce the cost of health care. Stamford Hospital District shares this vision and I look forward to partnering to provide superior, local health care that is accessible to all in our region,” said Chris Strickland, Haskell Memorial Hospital CEO. “Together we will create a high-quality, patient centered, affordable health care experience close to home.”
Rural hospitals and clinics face mounting pressures including shrinking profit margins, declining insurance reimbursements, difficulty recruiting physicians or other providers, and an aging population that requires a higher level of care. Other challenges include the increasing costs of operating a health care facility, a declining rural population, and the availability of more providers and more specialized care in nearby urban areas.
Brad Holland, President & CEO of Hendrick Health System, added, “Rural health care continues to struggle with various industry headwinds, but the recent collaboration between Haskell Memorial Hospital and Stamford Family Health Center creates incremental economic value that larger organizations, like Hendrick, are not eligible to participate in presently. I applaud the boards and leadership of both organizations for looking to preserve vital health care services in their communities by creating this new and meaningful partnership. Each community and health organization will continue to have the support of Hendrick Health System, as we consider both as part of our larger virtual health care network and look forward to continuing to work to keep health care local and vibrant.”
This collaboration will create a higher level of localized care and will help keep those patients close to home, which will benefit the patient, the organizations, and the entire region. “We’re encouraged to see regional collaboration among rural health care providers aimed at maintaining access to care and controlling health care costs, and view it as a model for other regional rural groups to follow. We hope to see more of this type of cooperation across the state,” said John Henderson, President and CEO of Texas Organization of Rural and Community Hospitals (TORCH).
Strickland echoes this sentiment and hopes that other rural health care facilities across the state will follow suit. “This is the first of many opportunities to change the landscape of rural health care, said Strickland. “It is my hope that we can further collaborate with other health care systems to form additional alliances that benefit us all.”
This partnership will be of great benefit to not only the Haskell and Stamford communities, but to the entire region. Providing health care services close to home relieves the burden of travel to larger medical centers and allows these organizations to do what they do best – care for our communities.
“Jesus said the two greatest commandments are to first, love God, and second, to love our neighbors. It’s an honor for the community of Haskell to show our neighbors in Stamford that we care for their wellbeing, and we look forward to partnering with Stamford Hospital District to continue providing high-quality health care through the clinic in Stamford,” said Robbie Peiser, President of Haskell Memorial Hospital Board of Directors. “Health care is changing, and the success of rural health care is in the hands of those willing to partner to find solutions. I am excited about this partnership and I look forward to the future of our organizations.”
The transition of the Stamford clinic’s operations to Haskell Memorial Hospital is underway, and both organizations look forward to being stronger together.
State Representative Stan Lambert agrees, and said, “As rural hospitals continue to face closure across the state and the nation, we must find creative solutions to address the health care needs of our citizens. Innovative partnerships and regional collaboration are the future of rural health care. This agreement between two fine health care institutions will utilize shared resources and ensure positive medical outcomes for the people living in Jones and Haskell counties.”