Hospital leaders from Florida’s rural counties gathered in Tallahassee on Tuesday to take part within the Florida Hospital Association’s inaugural Rural Hospital Day and shine a highlight on rural hospital points all through the state.

Orchestrated by FHA, the one-day occasion gave rural hospital executives a chance to satisfy with legislators individually and attend committee hearings on the Capitol. The occasion included 9 leaders representing 5 rural hospitals from across the state, together with AdventHealth Wauchula, Docs Memorial Hospital, Jackson Hospital, Lake Butler Hospital and Madison County Memorial Hospital.

Attendees met with legislators to deliver consciousness to challenges going through Florida’s rural communities and advocate for vital insurance policies and applications supposed to strengthen well being care within the state’s rural areas. Rural hospital leaders met with Reps. Alex Andrade, Kaylee Tuck, Patt Maney, Jason Shoaf and Allison Tant, in addition to Sens. Corey Simon and Jay Trumbull.

On the agenda was producing help for funding the Rural Hospital Capital Enchancment Grant Program, which presents important capital to rural hospitals for updating and hardening their amenities.

In 2023, the Florida Legislature awarded $10 million to 19 hospital candidates of the grant program, which had in any other case not been funded since 2008. Nonetheless, FHA carried out a rural hospital survey that discovered that a further $29 million is required this 12 months to help high quality know-how, gear and repairs to make sure rural hospitals can proceed offering the best degree of care of their communities.

This Session, FHA is advocating for this grant program to be funded at $10 million recurring to help the continued wants of those amenities to serve their native communities.

Florida’s 23 rural hospitals help over 1,000 beds and make use of almost 6,000 individuals. These techniques are pillars of hope of their communities for 1000’s of Floridians who rely on them every day for care.

Now could be a crucial time for Florida hospital leaders and the Florida Legislature to prioritize the Sunshine State’s well being care supply system. The state’s inhabitants continues to develop — rising the demand for well being care now and into the longer term. And that’s why small and rural hospitals want entry to each obtainable useful resource to thrive.

The modernization of the agricultural hospital framework, in addition to enhancements to amenities, applied sciences and gear could make a large influence. With continued help, Florida’s rural hospitals can proceed delivering distinctive lifesaving trauma, acute therapy, labor and supply, and long-term care companies.

Along with the Rural Hospital Capital Enchancment Grant Program, members reiterated to state legislators their help of HB 309 and SB 644, which leverage a brand new Medicare supplier sort that may permit for rural emergency hospitals to keep Medicare reimbursement and deal with delivering emergency and outpatient care.

SB 644, sponsored by Simon, and HB 309, sponsored by Shoaf, have been efficiently transferring via committee. FHA mentioned this marks an encouraging milestone towards persevering with to advance Florida’s rural well being care supply system.

Nationally, 136 hospitals shuttered between 2010-2021 as a result of distinctive constraints rural hospitals expertise. FHA and rural hospital leaders are working onerous to make sure this doesn’t change into the fact for hospitals in Florida’s rural communities. Brooke G. Donaldson, CEO of Jackson Hospital, FHA Board Rural Hospital Trustee and Chair of FHA’s Rural Hospital Committee, highlighted the crucial position rural hospitals play in strengthening Florida’s continuum of care.

“Not solely are rural hospitals very important to the lifeforce and wellbeing of their communities, they’re additionally an indispensable a part of Florida’s well being care continuum,” Donaldson mentioned. “Rural Hospital Day creates a essential discussion board devoted to fostering dialogue associated to insurance policies and applications that may considerably bolster well being care within the Sunshine State’s small and rural communities.”

FHA continues to face on the forefront of crucial conversations to ensure the long-term success of rural well being care techniques.  Rural Hospital Day is part of the continued advocacy work FHA is resulting in garner extra help for the advance and sustainability of Florida’s rural hospitals.

Vital infrastructure is paramount, in keeping with Mary C. Mayhew, President and CEO of the Florida Hospital Affiliation. The framework rural Florida hospitals are advocating for in the present day will advance high-quality well being care in rural Florida communities for future generations.

“It’s troublesome to overstate the invaluable position that rural hospitals play of their communities,” Mayhew mentioned. “As Florida’s inhabitants continues to age and develop, we should proceed to assume innovatively about how we will fortify our rural hospitals to protect entry to high quality care in our rural communities — for all levels of life and for generations to return.”

FHA stays optimistic concerning the optimistic influence these initiatives can have in Florida’s small and rural communities. The Affiliation will proceed to work alongside hospital leaders and state lawmakers to make sure Florida maintains the most effective and brightest in its well being care workforce and is the epicenter for world-class well being care.

The Florida Legislature’s dedication to bolstering rural well being care this legislative session displays a broader dedication to making sure communities of all sizes have fashionable, subtle heath care for his or her residents that may span generations.

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