Add the Affordable Health Care Act - Obamacare - and both the foreseen and unpredictable changes in rural health care and there are some "real challenges" ahead for the Deer Creek Health Care Center in Toledo and its parent Grinnell Regional Medical Center.
That's the assessment of Sheryl Rutledge, Tama, who serves, among her GRMC duties, is director of Rural Health Clinics. In addition to Deer Creek she oversees operations at Victor and Lynnville.
Federal reimbursements and funding cuts Rutledge says are near $1 million already in the first quarter of this year for the GRMC operations budget. This combined with the difficulty in attracting doctors and other health care professionals to rural locations makes adjustments a requirement, Rutledge says.
Some of the staff at the Deer Creek Health Center in Toledo include Jo Bradely (seated) admitting receptionist, and (l-r) Sheryl Rutledge, GRMC?director of Rural Health Clinics, Jesse Collum, nurse practitioner -ARNP and Sherry Parks, physician’s assistant - PAC-Certified.
"We're getting creative with a whole lot of things" is how the GRMC team is gearing up to meet these future needs, Rutledge says.
Being proactive in "preventive" medicine is a must and is a top priority, she says.
They are also adding new revenue streams such as providing medical diagnostic and analysis services to companies.
At Deer Creek in Toledo, new patients are accepted with busy schedules in place for both Sherry Parks, physician's assistant - PAC-Certified, and Jesse Collum, nurse practitioner -ARNP.
In addition, Dr. Matthew McKnight, a podiatrist, and Dr. Joel Novak, an orthopedic surgeon, have office hours every week here. Michelle Rebesky MD, the medical director for Deer Creek Health Center spends one-half day weekly at Toledo.
Rutledge says it is hoped to add additional specialties at Deer Creek.
Physical therapy and occupational therapy services and therapeutic massage are also offered. Full lab and radiology services continue to be a part of the range of services available.
Rutledge predicts more changes will be seen in how rural health care is delivered within five years.
She says the mid-level health care provider "is going to be the future of health care." She emphasizes they "are very qualified."
NEXT:?Spotlight: Rural Health - Emergency Medical Services in Toledo and Tama during EMS?Week in May