By Elena Olson King
The family physician, a doctor who provides comprehensive healthcare for people of all ages, is often the first line of defense in protecting your health. When a patient’s health condition becomes more complex, the family physician often recommends a specialist, someone who has devoted their career to a specific system or organ within the body. In a time when healthcare administration and insurance reimbursements become increasingly complex, ruralMED provides specialty services to help rural health care thrive.
Founded in 2015, ruralMED Management Resources keeps the focus on patient care while helping hospitals, clinics and other health care organizations become more efficient. “All the changes in regulations make it harder for providers to get reimbursed,” says Jackie Ziemke, Executive Assistant/Marketing Coordinator. ruralMED management resources can provide analysis and strategy to help find ways to increase efficiency and manage clinics. Human resources services can help health care organizations with hiring, recruitment, staffing, and management. Multiple levels of assistance are available and ruralMED works with each organization to develop a plan based on their needs.
From ruralMED Management Resources, the ruralMED Health Cooperative and ruralMED Health Network were formed in 2016 by Harlan County Health System, Lexington Regional Health Center, Phelps Memorial Health Center, and Tri Valley Health System, four critical access hospitals in rural Nebraska. Butler County Health Care Center is now also a member. Together, they can pool resources and strategize to develop services that will best fit their hospitals and communities. Because they work together, the cooperative can receive preferred pricing on the supplies they order. Clinical resources and non-clinical resources are also available to members and non-members, such as legal services and physician recruitment. “We help keep rural healthcare rural,” Jackie explains. “There is a great opportunity for growth and we are working to help critical access hospitals to thrive in today’s evolving healthcare environment.”
ruralMED also provides home care through skilled nursing, therapists, and home health aides. By providing everything from hospice care to transportation services, individualized services help decrease repeat hospitalizations. “People recover faster when they get to be at home,” Jackie continues. Home care services are currently available in 11 counties in Nebraska.
The ruralMED Health and Wellness program is also growing with locations in Holdrege and Broken Bow. Through the Ideal Protein weight management system provided by ruralMED, over 90 dieters are losing weight and regaining their health. During all four phases of the weight-loss protocol, patients receive one-on-one coaching and weight management education. Wellness coaches Marlene Williams and Beth Langenberg help participants stay positive and motivated to reach their goals.
Even with all the services they provide and continued expansion opportunities, ruralMED remains an organization centered on patients. “When we have a board meeting, physicians are there for advice,” Jackie adds. By providing leadership, support, and resources to rural healthcare organizations, ruralMED helps to create healthier communities in rural Nebraska.