Forum News Service: Rural health — Two small Minnesota hospitals learn how to survive

The Bigfork Valley health care complex includes a clinic, hospital, nursing home, adult day care, senior citizen apartments and other faciliies. Submitted photo.

EXCERPT: “Small-town hospitals and clinics may not have all the bells and whistles of their big-city counterparts, but they offer something patients often cannot find in the cities: quarterbacks. ‘You have a quarterback here,’ said Dr. Heidi Korstad, sitting in the cafeteria of Bigfork Valley, a sprawling medical complex of hospital, clinic, nursing home and other facilities in a town that falls short of 500 population. The quarterback, Korstad said, is a small-town doctor who can supervise care for patients. ‘You have somebody that understands you, knows your medical problems … knows your family, knows your economic situation.’ With frustration, the doctor who has been at Scenic River Medical Service clinic in Bigfork 35 years said that does not always happen in bigger facilities. Too often, Korstad said, the patient ‘is a complaining widget.’ Korstad and other small-town health professionals say that besides providing quality medical care, they offer personal attention that cannot be obtained in bigger facilities. ‘It is the people you live with,’ said CEO Nathan Blad of Renville County Hospital and Clinics, based in Olivia. The Bigfork and Olivia facilities sit 261 miles apart in far different country (timber and lakes versus farming), but they are two examples of how some small Minnesota hospitals have bucked the trend of financial problems and even closure.” FULL STORY: