Cooper County Memorial Hospital has been operating on reserve funds since 2008 primarily because of the loss of market share to Columbia hospitals.
CCMH receives only nine percent of the potential 35 percent of individuals to Columbia hospitals. Because of the dwindling market share the hospital's reserve funds will not last long and according to their most recent audit, the hospital may in fact cease to operate in its current form by the end of the year.
Over 50 people gathered at the community forum held at Boonville City Council Chambers Monday night to discuss the hospital matter. The overall opinion of the health care provided by the hospital was very good. Many individuals gave praise to the hospital of their exceptional services and thought many people in the community did not know what the hospital offered. In fact, CCMH could provide care to 25 percent more Cooper County residents who choose to go to Columbia.
"We think this is a critical aspect of the hospital," CCMH Board of Trustees Director Mike Conway said."If you do not choose to use this facility the hospital will have to change to be something very different. Do not take the hospital for granted."
Conway laid out the importance of CCMH to the community including the fact the hospital employs 180 people within the community.
"Our emergency ambulance does a very good job getting folks into the ER, which could make the difference between life or death," Conway said.
In laying out the struggles, Conway said the hospital lost over two million dollars in 2012, much of that because of bad debt or charity care and loss of acute care patients. The board had also looked at closing down the ER but did not do so because the hospital would then lose (all) acute care patients causing the hospital to lose its greatest money maker.
"If we could get back at least 10 percent more market share (200 people) will add about one million dollars," CCMH CEO Alan Waldo said.
The community forum was also intended to hear community comments regarding the services CCMH offers. Concerns were voiced on the initial experience of setting up appointments. Area resident James Gann said it was difficult for him to set up an appointment but when he did the care he received was great. His concern reflected the growing need of first getting people to come through the door to receive the good health care CCMH provides.
As the forum grew concerned about the potential of losing a hospital, many asked what they could do to help. The reply was 'spread the word.'
"I am very much in favor of everyone supporting the hospital. We need it. There are many senior citizens who are unable to drive to columbia. There are a lot of specialist here and good equipment. The home health nurses are some of the top in the nation. We want to be sure we can keep the doors open so it is there when we need it," Velma Flippin said.
Page 2 of 2 - Forums will be held in every community in Cooper County and parts of Howard County.
"We will get the word out to everyone who will come to listen to us. We think the power of word of mouth of community is extremely important. My perception is, we really take CCMH for granted. We drive out Route B and assume CCMH is always going to be there. We choose to go to Columbia because we think bigger is better. Folks it is not always going to be there in its present form. We ask that when you go home and when you have a choice to use CCMH. Also, spread the word about the hospital as well," CCMH Board of Trustee member Paul Davis said.