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HCH agreement enhances quality of life

My Opinion
Ross Schulz, Staff Writer

The Harrison County Hospital in Corydon is on solid footing, maybe more so than it has been in its history.
On Feb. 24, hospital officials announced an agreement with Norton Healthcare, one of the leading health institutions in Louisville. Norton has five hospitals, two medical centers, 12 immediate care centers and other emergency and specialty centers. It’s ‘footprint’ on the medical field in the region is unparalleled, and now HCH has the ability to tap into Norton’s resources.
Norton officials, who met with HCH staff in February, said the relationship is more solidified than it has been in the past (Norton has been affiliated with HCH in some form since 1981) and is closer to a full-service agreement.
The agreement will give HCH medical providers and staff full access to the extensive training, education and management development services provided by Norton University. Norton will also provide HCH staff access to Norton University management and leadership development classes, offered both in Louisville and Corydon, as well as Norton Healthcare’s management development conferences in Louisville.
Anything that can strengthen or better prepare the medical staff working at our local hospital, who deal with the lives of Harrison Countians on a regular basis, is good for the community.
As a part of a grant secured by Norton, Harrison County will have telemedicine equipment installed sometime this summer.
The grant will pay for an exciting program that will bring Norton specialists to the bedside of Harrison County patients with medical carts outfitted with video conferencing equipment and peripheral devices such as digital stethoscopes that will connect to specialists operating laptop control stations at any of Norton’s five hospitals. The carts provide a way for the hospital specialists to be at the patient’s bedside for examination, consultation, referrals and prescriptions. Through the video connection, the physicians can also access the patient’s medical records and document their own notes into the system.
The program will put Harrison County on the leading edge of health care technology.
Harrison County government should also be commended for stepping up to the plate in 2010 to help HCH reduce its debt burden. The county allotted $8 million, through the Harrison County Community Foundation, to HCH. The hospital also pitched in $10 million of its cash reserves to bring the debt down to a reasonable level where banks were willing to support HCH.
Steve Taylor, executive director at HCH, said the hospital posted one of its best years financially in 2011. As one of the county’s largest employers, the hospital has a payroll of $24 million with 525 employees.
It’s unclear whether Norton would have entered into an agreement with HCH if it couldn’t even be securely backed by a bank, but, through the county’s actions, there’s no doubt it made it a lot easier for the agreement to become reality.
And HCH and the entire community are better off for it.