SPRINGFIELD, Ga. (WSAV) — Effingham Health System unveiled a network-wide rebrand Wednesday as a part of a transformation to bring quality health care closer to home for people in rural areas.
Effingham Health System is a nonprofit, community-owned health care system that serves more than 60,000 people in the county.
Hospital staff say after a tough year, they decided it was time to restructure their health care system in order to assist more people who may not have had access to adequate medical care during the pandemic.
“Unfortunately, COVID 2020 slowed us down. To meet the needs of the community, there was a need to rebrand,” Effingham Health System President and CEO Dr. Fran Witt, DNP, MBA, LNHA, RN said.
They’re one of the lucky few able to keep their doors open. Last year set a record for rural hospital closures in the U.S.
According to the National Rural Health Association, before the COVID-19 pandemic, hundreds of rural hospitals were just trying to stay afloat.
Since the pandemic hit, more than 20 hospitals had to close their doors, and since 2010, 137 emergency rooms have closed.
“Many times, people see rural hospitals as a back door or not as progressive. Our hospital is very unique,” Witt said. “We saw it as an opportunity to re-engage ourselves in the community and see it as a trust that whatever experience you’ve had in the past, that is the past. We’re moving into the future and we’re doing it the right way.”
Rural hospitals were offered some relief under the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan President Joe Biden signed in March, which allocated $8.5 billion to rural health care providers.
Effingham Health System officials say although the past year has been difficult, they’re hoping the transformation and federal aid will help them connect to more rural households.
“Not only will it improve access and increase access to the people in the community, but the services and programs we have implemented and executed are meeting the direct needs of the community,” Witt said.