GCGH ahead of the curve in rural healthcare

Monday, September 18, 2017

A recent business-oriented news organization recently reported rural Indiana has a dire lack of healthcare access for delivering babies, but here in Greene County that’s not the case.

Inside INdiana Business released a report on Sept. 5 -- authored by Dr. Greg Larkin and Don Kelso -- which detailed at least 30 Indiana counties with no “obstetric capacity.”

“Increasingly, pregnant women who are a part of the 1.4 million Hoosiers living in rural areas face a forbidding truth: despite earnest efforts to maintain a wide spectrum of healthcare services, more than 30 Indiana counties today have no obstetric capacity -- the specialized medical ability to support childbirth,” the report states.

CEO Brenda Reetz credited the dedicated board of directors and leadership at Greene County General Hospital with expanding local services while other rural areas are cutting back.

“It truly comes down to the fact our board is committed to keeping OB present in Greene County. We have had multiple conversations about it in the past, about whether we follow the path of other counties or not, but we’ve realized the distance requirements. We feel the service and safety it provides the community far outweighs the financial burden of the situation,” Reetz explained.

Greene County offers full labor and delivery services and has a board certified OBGYN on staff. While many other rural counties are choosing to forgo the financial burden associated with keeping their family practice physicians trained in obstetric services, Greene County has several who can work with expectant mothers. The hospital also offers ultrasounds, lab work and more.

Locally, Reetz said the hospital has seen firsthand the importance of having such services available in the county. Weather issues prevented an expectant mother from making the hour trip to Bloomington where she had planned on delivering her baby. The woman ended up needing an emergency c-section and delivered at GCGH.

“If we didn’t have a doctor available who could do that emergency c-section within 20 minutes, that baby might not have made it,” Reetz explained.

The hospital also offers a wide range of services for expecting parents, such as the Sweet Dreams Baby Bundles, education classes and has an internationally certified lactation consultant on staff.

Reetz said it has been important for the hospital to continue to offer such services because, realistically, the critical access hospital will end up delivering babies no matter what so it makes sense to have all the necessary resources and more available to rural Greene County.

“If we don’t have the services, it puts babies at risk, and we want to do it right,” Reetz said.

GCGH’s dedication to serving those in need in rural areas does not stop in the OB department. The hospital is regularly adding services to ensure patients don’t have to make long-distance trips for their health.

Some of those services include 3-D Mammography, MRI, cardiopulmonary rehabilitation, infusion and chemotherapy.

“Some of our patients need infusions twice a day. With it being right here, they can come here, get their infusion and go back to work,” Reetz explained.

The hospital also brings in specialists from out of town in order to offer another yet another important service to ensure Greene County residents are able to get the treatment they need without spending hours in the car.

Thanks to the dedicated men and women who lead our local hospital, more people are able to stay close to home. Expectant mothers can get everything they need right here. Chemotherapy patients are not having to travel on top of being ill from medication. Less work and life is missed as patients utilize the local facility for appointments and infusions.

We are incredibly lucky to have all of these services right in our own back yard, even when other Indiana counties around us are losing services.