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franklin county times

Walk-off signals larger health care problem

By By Sheila Blackmon/The Meridian Star
May 19, 2001
UNION Upset over a payroll issue, five Laird Hospital employees walked off their jobs Friday. Hospital Administrator Danny Spreitler said the payroll problem is part of a much larger crisis facing rural hospitals.
Spreitler said Friday's payroll was met for all 185 hospital employees but hospital officials did have a problem with a back payroll.
Spreitler said small hospitals statewide are up for sale. He said Laird is not, but officials at a rural hospital in the Aberdeen-Monroe area sent out a notice two weeks ago. A hospital in Winona is looking for a new owner, a Stone County hospital is under new ownership after closing and Scott Regional Hospital in Morton has also looked for new ownership, he said.
He said Medicare has cut reimbursable amounts for in-patient, out-patient and home health services significantly since 1997, and small hospitals suffered the same size cuts as larger hospitals.
to recruit people to come to rural hospitals. We can't offer day care and someone to cut your grass which is one of the newer incentives we've heard offered."
He said the state's senators and representatives need to push for special funding for rural hospitals. Administrators at small hospitals should come up with payment plants representative of their patient services. They should form alliances with larger nearby hospitals, so they're not competing but still offering local patient services, he said.
Until solutions are found, Spreitler said rural hospitals will have to "fight for their existence and hang on for dear life."
Sheila Blackmon is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3275, or e-mail her at sblackmon@themeridianstar.com.