Members of the Wilbarger General Hospital Board of Directors held strategic planning sessions and community meetings at Vernon College last week. On Thursday, members of the community medical staff met to see a presentation on the current state of the hospital and weigh in on what is needed to maintain and grow the local health system. Friday morning, board members, members of the community at large, and representatives of the hospital staff met to see the same presentation and give their feedback.
“I’ve seen strategic planning slides from presentations in 2014 and 2016 and the same issues have been identified again in 2020”, stated Board member David Worrall. “We’ve all seen what happens to communities when the hospital is forced to close, it isn’t pretty. It is going to take all of us: the community, our local healthcare providers, hospital staff, and the board to commit to the success of our hospital.”
With the American Hospital Association projecting 700 rural hospitals across the country to close within the year, the challenges facing Wilbarger General are not unique. “Healthcare is weird,” said Tom Siemers, Wilbarger General CEO. “You can’t go in supermarket and pick up the items you need and tell the cashier ‘I don’t want to pay the full price of this item, I’ll just give you 30% of the price’ or ‘”I’ll come pay next week’ Yet, that is what happens in healthcare with insurance companies.”
Another issue facing the hospital is crumbling infrastructure. Board member Jim Riggins shared his recent experience touring the facility with the group. The equipment used to heat and cool the place are so outdated, we cannot even get parts for them. The roof is old and needs replacing but the estimated cost to replace the roof alone is over a million dollars
Each session ended with attendees signing a commitment to excellence for the future of the hospital. Board member Melissa Conner said “I know I can do my part to help encourage people to use our hospital. We all have something we can do to contribute to the success of Wilbarger General Hospital.”
Board members held their September Board of Directors meeting Saturday, September 12th and followed the meeting with a board retreat. The board is working to create a strategic plan to ensure the success of the hospital over the next 5 years. The plan will be shared with the public upon its completion. As CEO Tom Siemers stated “We all have a role to play in the future of our hospital. With so many hospitals projected to close, we need to make sure WGH isn’t one of them.”