Rural Hospitals Get A Boost With The Help Of A Partnership With Banner Health

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
A grain elevator looms over the east end of 1st Street in Julesburg. The Sedgwick County Health Center in Julesburg is one of eight rural hospitals in Colorado to join a new consortium with Banner Health.

A group of rural Colorado hospitals are teaming up with a large nonprofit health care system to help manage hospital costs.

Eight rural and critical access hospitals in the Centennial State selected Banner Health as a partner. The newly formed Eastern Plains Healthcare Consortium wants to help hospitals work collectively to maintain high quality patient care and prosper as businesses.

Banner, based in Arizona, is one of the largest nonprofit health care systems in the U.S. It was picked over three other systems.

“Each of us has a commitment to our respective rural communities,” said Trampas Hutches, chairman of the Eastern Plains Healthcare Consortium and chief executive officer of Melissa Memorial Hospital. “Coming together through the consortium allows us to meet our common goal of being successful, independent health care organizations. Banner has been respectful of that.”

Through the collaboration, hospitals will be able to share employees and supplies, and work together to reduce pharmaceutical waste. The health care system will also help find ways to provide specialized care that may not be offered in a hospital’s local community.

The deal allows each hospital to retain its independence.

The move comes as rural hospitals have been under intense pressure in recent years due to rising health costs, financial instability and low reimbursement from government insurers.

More than 100 hospitals have closed in 27 states since 2010. Hospitals are typically one of a rural communities’ largest employers as well as serving as key community centers.

The new consortium includes Melissa Memorial, Holyoke; Kiowa County Hospital District, Eads; Keefe Memorial Hospital, Cheyenne Wells; Haxtun Hospital District, Haxtun; Kit Carson County Hospital District, Burlington; Yuma Hospital and Clinics, Yuma; Lincoln County Hospital, Hugo; and Sedgwick County Health Center, Julesburg