Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Small May Be Efficient As Well As Beautiful

By completing a $30 million construction project, Fremont Health Medical Center in Fremont, Nebraska “intends to upgrade its quality and image by down-sizing its number of patient beds.”  The down-sizing is from 90 to 61 beds, not including 20 mental health beds being added.  Another $10 million is being spent to upgrade Dunklau Gardens, an attached nursing home.

That was the lead-in to a front page story in the September 5 issue of the Omaha World Herald.

Fremont is a town of about 25,000 people located on the Platte River, some 35 miles northwest of Omaha.

According to the article, Fremont Health operates about a dozen clinics throughout its service area.  It employs 30 physicians and has relationships with a hundred more – a number of which presumably are specialists who travel out periodically from Omaha.  Services include cancer care, labor and delivery, orthopedic surgery, cardiac catheterization, and psychiatry.

The article related the case of 87-year-old Loran Pfeiffer who recently had surgery in Fremont Health for a broken hip.  His daughter Peggy, a nurse practicing in a different hospital, was quoted as saying she was pleased with the care given to her father.

The story is indicative of what is happening in small hospitals all across the country.  While medical glamour has been associated with large teaching hospitals, these smaller institutions are showing that they can provide quality care in pleasant ways and at lower cost for a large portion of the patient population.

It causes one to wonder about the future of the large, prestigious institutions, particularly those located in relatively small communities like the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and the University of Iowa in Iowa City. 


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