Guest Editorial: Community bids farewell to FMH

Doscher

After serving Fairfield County for 63 years, Fairfield Memorial Hospital is closing their doors.  It has been a privilege to serve this community and we are so thankful for the years of support.

Like most rural hospitals, the hospital has struggled financially for years.  Many factors are contributing to the struggles of hospitals.  Reimbursement has declined, South Carolina declined to expand Medicaid, staffing costs have increased, medication costs have increased, rural residents seek healthcare out of their communities and burdensome regulations are increasing costs.  Hundreds of rural community hospitals have closed in the last few years, including three hospitals in South Carolina.

One strategy that rural hospitals are using to survive involves partnering with larger and financially stronger healthcare organizations.  Some rural hospitals are being purchased to improve their chance of survival.  Fairfield Memorial Hospital attempted this option and was unsuccessful in attracting a purchaser.   We did find a partner with Providence Health.

Healthcare financial experts told us our hospital could not remain open past Apr 2016.  FMH has worked for the past three years to develop and implement a strategy to preserve the most critical components of healthcare in our community.  We worked with Providence Health to construct a 24 hour, physician staffed Emergency Room.  We worked with Fairfield County Council to provide dependable, long term office space for our local physicians.  We worked with our employees to secure employment after the hospital closes.  Through these efforts, we have addressed important needs in this community with emergency services, primary care physicians and employed residents.  We spent the last three years improving the efficiencies of our services and focusing on our priorities to sustain our hospital until the Providence Health ER opened.

We are saddened by this closing but very excited for the residents of Fairfield County with great opportunities for growth in healthcare services and longevity of critical healthcare services in the future.  Thank you for years of support to Fairfield Memorial Hospital.


Suzanne Doscher, Fairfield Memorial Hospital CEO

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