Our Critical Access Hospital
In 2017 when we realized our local hospital was likely to lose Labor and Delivery services many of us started studying the history of how our hospital came to be. The hospital, which opened in 1954, was funding by contributions from the local community and funds received through the Hill-Burton Act. The late Calvin Hall, a lifelong and beloved resident of Spruce Pine, would tell stories of walking house to house in his youth asking for donations to build the hospital. What began as Spruce Pine Community Hospital is now know as Blue Ridge Regional Hospital, a regional hospital of Mission Health.
As we learned about the hospital's history we kept coming across the phrase "Critical Access Hospital", or CAH. And we began to see news articles about rural hospitals closing and how many of them were CAHs. This was disconcerting since our hospital is a Critical Access Hospital.
Many of us subscribe to The Daily Yonder, a free newsletter published by the nonprofit, nonpartisan Center for Rural Strategies. Particularly since the pandemic began, and access to local healthcare has become such an issue for rural communities, this news outlet has generated many informative articles.
Here's a link to their article "What is a Critical Access Hospital, or CAH?" This is the best, most comprehensive article we've seen on this topic.
Another eye-catching title is "New York Representatives Introduce Legislation to Save Critical Access Hospitals", which describes the Protecting Rural Access to Care Act.
If those two articles aren't enough to make you want to check out The Daily Yonder, here are two more:
White House Staffers Brief Rural Health Advocates on Biden's American Rescue Plan, which discusses his priorities for rural health moving forward during Covid and what we will need in terms of health care after the pandemic is over.
Without a doubt our local hospital has long been an important part of our rural community, and we want to keep it that way. That's why SEARCH promotes safe, quality, affordable, LOCAL healthcare for our two counties.