UMC's Regional Fall Symposium and Swing Bed Summit

As one of the largest regional hospitals, UMC is committed to working with smaller rural hospital districts to build a care network that benefits all our patients. In addition to training and support, events like the 2022 Regional Fall Symposium and Swing Bed Summit bring nationally renowned physicians and local medical professionals together to solve some of our toughest problems. Rural hospitals struggle with the same problems larger hospitals do, but sometimes their challenges are worsened by their location or difference in access. Financial challenges, hiring woes, retainment, and service access are problems any hospital might struggle with, but the problems are acute for smaller hospital districts, where not meeting certain requirements might result in rural hospitals and clinics being shut down entirely. Leaders and representatives from each district came together at UMC’s McInturff to try and get ahead of some of these challenges.

Aaron Davis opened the summit with an overview of UMC’s progress over the past year and plans for the future. The examples of future clinics, hospitals, and the Cancer Center show that healthcare is as in demand as ever in the region and that access, especially specialty access, is of growing importance. However, many of the rural clinics in the region are the first line of defense for many of our local patients. Armed with a small staff of nurses, family nurse practitioners and physicians, small labs, and limited radiology access, these rural hospitals handle everything they can (sometimes much more than expected) and send the most difficult cases to larger hospitals like UMC. However, metric after metric shows that some of the best patient outcomes come from smaller rural hospitals in the patients’ hometowns. While these hospitals don’t have the same sophistication as some larger facilities, patients generally prefer to be closer to home, in the care of the trusted providers they regularly visit.

Dr. Mark Lindsey, the summit’s keynote speaker, is an Assistant Professor at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine. He is also the Medical Director of Allevant, a joint venture between the Mayo Clinic and Select Medical, offering consulting services for Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) and other providers to develop post-acute care programs focused on measured outcomes and evidence-based processes to ensure patients get the best care possible. Before an audience of rural healthcare leaders, Dr. Lindsey highlighted the value of effective swing bed programs and the benefits these programs have on both larger and rural hospitals. In addition to creating substantial revenue growth, critical for the survival and subsistence of smaller rural hospitals, swing bed programs incentivize returning post-acute patients to their homes and local providers, which is proven to increase overall patient outcomes. Dr. Lindsey outlined how swing bed programs allow larger hospitals to clear beds, providing access for patients needing higher-level care at facilities like UMC. He highlighted how collaborative networks and effective communication between rural and metropolitan hospitals results in a “win-win” situation for everyone involved.

At UMC, it’s in our best interest to foster relationships with smaller hospital districts, build lasting relationships, and be aware of how we can work with these facilities to best benefit our patients. Awareness of local swing bed programs and our mutual limitations and capabilities build trust with our patients, showing them that we’re working not only in the interest of the Lubbock community but our neighboring communities as loyal team members committed to improving healthcare access across the board. For information on local swing bed programs and how your units might benefit from working more closely with rural hospitals, contact Kyle Galyean at Kyle.Galyean@umchealthsystem.com.

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