New Hospital

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COLUMBIA - A Kansas City company is working to make health care more efficient in Cooper County by constructing a new, smaller facility for Cooper County Memorial Hospital.

Rural Health Group - Consolidated bought the hospital for $3.9 million last week.

The number of beds will be reduced, according to Mike Conway, a former member of the board of trustees.

"The new hospital, when built, will be a minimum of 8 beds. We are actually licensed I think to over 50 beds at the hospital now but we probably have an average acute care since then somewhere between 3 or 4 so we don't need as many beds as we had," he said.

The hospital has been looking for a partner for the past three years. It is a stand alone rural hospital. Conway said it "felt the need to be a part of something bigger." 

Trustees had three interviews with other potential partners.

Conway said most had a different vision of what the health community in Cooper County needs.

"Most of the entities we talked with saw Cooper County as needing a rural health clinic with doctors and some outpatient clinics but really no need for emergency rooms, no need for acute care admissions which is a little higher level of admission and we feel that would be short changing in the community," he said.

Rural Health Group - Consolidated agreed there was still a need for emergency rooms and acute care admissions. it also agreed to build a new hospital. 

There has been a hospital in the area since 1918. 

Dave Dillon, spokesperson for Missouri Hospital Association said rural hospitals face many issues. 

"All rural hospitals have a set of challenges that are linked to payment systems that are related to the demographics of the community they serve," Dillon said. 

He said this is a financially bad time for rural hospitals. 

"The various changes that have taken place both through the Affordable Care Act as well as through federal budget cuts have, for even the best position rural hospitals, lowered their ability to even be paid the full amount for the cost of care through medicare," Dillon said. 

He said the people in rural areas need good access to health care.

"Rural hospitals tend to serve a demographic that is not only older sicker and poorer than there counterparts in the suburban and urban areas but also they have less access to commercial health insurance," Dillon said. 

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