The Future of Rural Health Care Revealed


Hospital Sign on Rural RoadCommunity members met with CEO Kirk Stensrud from Glacial Ridge Health System at an open forum on June 21 to discuss the future of rural health care and its complexity. Stensrud explained how changes made at a legislative level effect rural communities’ access to health care differently than metro areas. He then identified for the 50 attendees what is most important for Glacial Ridge Hospital and the clinics in Glenwood and Brooten to remain financially stable so they can continue to provide and expand services locally.

Most important to rural health care are the two national programs currently in place for  Glacial Ridge Hospital is one of over 1,300 rural hospitals in the United States designated as a Critical Access Hospital. Likewise, Glenwood Medical Center and Brooten Medical Center are both Rural Health Clinics. These two designations mean that the payment systems give better reimbursement under Medicare to rural hospitals. It is critical that the Federal government keep these programs in place for rural hospitals and clinics across the nation to remain operationally sound. By doing so, they can keep current with the latest technology and provide as much care as possible as close to home as possible for their patients.

Stensrud then explained the negative effects Medicare Advantage Plans have on critical access hospitals and rural health clinics, making it more difficult for the organizations to sustain and add services. Studies show that these supplemental plans actually cost the Federal government more money than traditional Medicare. In fact, many advocates for seniors recommend that they steer clear of Medicare Advantage Plans because they haven’t been shown to help the individual as much as they are told they will.

Every day there are headlines about hospital consolidations that are happening now more than ever in both metro and rural areas, and on the flip side, headlines about community hospitals trying to regain local control and get out of long-term consolidation agreements. However, this is not the case in Pope County. Stensrud made it clear that Glacial Ridge Health System intends to remain independent and maintain local control over the healthcare services offered based on the needs of the community.

Related Information: How do Medicare Advantage Plans Work?
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Rural Health Care - Critical Access Hospital Infographic


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