Today’s blog comes to us from Robert Seamon, CEO of Copper Queen Community Hospital. Here he shares his thoughts on the success, challenges and the future of healthcare in Arizona. Once you’ve had a chance to read it, we’d love to hear your thoughts. Generating meaningful conversations around the health issues facing us here in Arizona is another way we are working to make our state the Healthiest State in the Nation!
AzHHA: What are the biggest hurdles to providing care?
Mr. Seamon: While I am always optimistic about the future, there are many challenges facing rural hospitals. I believe the greatest hurdle to providing patient care centers on a rural facility’s ability to remain financially viable and open for business. Financial margins in rural healthcare can be razor thin. Cuts from Federal and State funding programs such as Medicare and Medicaid are devastating.
Many rural communities also face significant economic challenges, including the loss of valuable industries. As a result, populations decline causing a significant decrease in volume and revenue for the hospital. Operating cash then becomes insufficient to cover the high fixed costs. As a result, many rural hospitals have been forced to close.
Another significant hurdle is the ability to attract qualified professionals to isolated areas, when the nation as a whole, is facing critical workforce shortages. In addition, hospitals large and small throughout the country are scrambling to develop effective strategies to address cyber threats, regulatory burden, escalating operating costs, social determinants of health affecting patient care outcomes and a national opioid epidemic that continues to kill thousands of Americans on an annual basis.
AzHHA: What are the greatest health needs in your community?
Mr. Seamon: Behavioral health services and addiction medicine programs are in desperate need. Moreover, many rural communities have a high prevalence of chronic conditions including hypertension, diabetes, heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The availability of specialty physicians is often severely limited in rural communities. Social determinants of health, including a lack of transportation to and from medical appointments, the inability to pay for prescription medications and lack of safe, affordable housing are all critical needs.
AzHHA: When you think about the future, what are you most hopeful for?
Mr. Seamon: My dream is to work with other healthcare facilities and community leaders to implement effective strategies that dramatically improve the overall health of our population. My goal is for every resident of the communities we serve to have access to the care they need, provided in the safest possible way, in alignment with the most recent evidence-based standards of care. When patients are discharged, I want them to have a safe place to live, hot food, access to needed medicine, a social support system and transportation to their medical appointments. We service three separate communities, and I want them all to be ranked the healthiest communities in Arizona. That’s my vision!
AzHHA: What is your facility’s greatest recent success?
Mr. Seamon: Copper Queen Community Hospital has been blessed with tremendous success. We are seeing solid growth in every service line. In large part, our success is due to the size of the communities we serve. Having a steady volume of patients is critical. Moreover, we have an incredible Board of Directors made up of volunteers who truly care about the communities we serve. We have the best medical staff. Our providers are exceptional and provide safe, quality care to our patients. We have over 300 employees who commit themselves to our success on a daily basis. We are fortunate to have several specialty physicians, including the recent addition of a gastroenterologist. We also have a robust telemedicine program that helps connect our patients to the care they need for good health.
AzHHA: What keeps you up at night?
Mr. Seamon: Interestingly, it’s not the challenges. I’ve spent my entire career in healthcare. There are always serious problems to face; it’s just part of the job. What keeps me up at night is quite positive. I think about my dream. I think about who I can partner with and how I can make it happen. At the end of my career, I don’t want my name on a building. I want to look back and know that my work was meaningful and impactful on the health of my community.