Speak Your Piece: A Rural Medical Miracle
[imgbelt img=SummersvilleNew.jpg]Summersville Regional Medical Center is city owned. It provides great care and it is among the lowest cost hospitals in the U.S. It is a rural medical miracle.
Summersville Regional is currently under the leadership of its first female administrator, Debbie Hill, a mother of 7 – 6 boys and 1 girl — and a fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives. The first administrator was E. C. Fairchild, followed by Landis Hudkins, Don Smith, Greg Johnson and Dave Lackey. The Board of Directors is made up of locals: Bob Britton, Nora Ramsey, Bob Fleer, Brad Dorsey, Anne Marie Stanley, Peg Callaghan, Sam Argento, Robert Shafer and W. D. Smith. They are all people who expect some day to need the services offered at the hospital.
The original mission of the hospital was “Care For Life.” Young families can have their babies there, receive medical services for themselves and their growing children and even look forward to spending convalescent days in their hometown, cared for by health care professionals who are family and friends.
During the 70’s, in order to succeed financially, the hospital changed from serving a farming/mining community of approximately 2,000 people to a regional medical center for a rural an area that was home to 34,000 people. The area has grown some. U.S. 19 was widened from two to four lanes, becoming a major “snowbird” route south. Also in the late 70’s, Summersville Lake was created and became an instant tourist attraction. Whitewater rafting on the Gauley and New Rivers starting at the headwaters of the Summersville Dam brings in thousands of people annually. All of this has resulted in more visitors from out of the region being seen as patients at the hospital.
The hospital has constantly changed to meet the new demands of the area. In the 80’s, a new 53-bed acute care hospital was built and the old building became a 52-bed nursing home. A four- story, 37,000 square foot ambulatory care facility for physician offices and additional outpatient services was constructed in the 90’s. The hospital added the latest medical technology — MRI, nuclear medicine, CT, cardiac rehab, laparoscopic surgery and 3D ultrasound services.
When regulations deemed the hospital’s lab too small, Summersville launched a $12 million dollar extreme makeover project. The hospital was seeing over 100,000 patients a year, but was turning people away. It had clearly outgrown its existing facility.