Health Beat: Saline County hospital creates for-profit partnership with national provider

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 83 views 

Editor’s note: Each Wednesday, Talk Business & Politics provides “Health Beat,” a round-up health-related topics. 


Saline Memorial Hospital in Benton has entered into a public-private partnership with RCCH HealthCare Partners that local officials say will help to ensure the continuation of high quality healthcare for the community for years to come.

Earlier in the year, Saline Memorial’s board of directors voted unanimously to create a public-private partnership that preserves the tax-exempt, not-for-profit charitable status and purpose of Saline County Medical Center, while also creating a tax-paying (for-profit entity) that will contribute a new source of revenues to the city and county through the paying of property and sales taxes. In keeping with the long term mission of the local hospital, existing charity care policies and practices will be preserved, officials said.

In addition to new expertise and operational resources, the partnership has committed to invest $35 million in capital expenditures over the next five years. This new investment will allow for potential expansion and updating of hospital facilities, new equipment and technology, and access to additional high quality healthcare services locally through new services and physician recruitment. Brentwood, Tenn.-based RCCH also operates National Park Medical Center in Hot Springs and Saint Mary’s Regional Medical Center in Russellville, as well as 17 regional health systems in 12 other states.

The national American Red Cross office in Washington, D.C. issued an emergency appeal asking eligible blood and platelet donors to give as soon as possible. Right now, Red Cross blood products are being distributed to hospitals faster than donations are coming in. Blood donations have fallen short of hospital needs for the past few months, resulting in about 39,000 fewer donations than what’s needed, as well as a significant draw-down of its overall blood supply, officials said.

Over the Fourth of July weekend, the Red Cross had a tough time collecting enough blood donations, officials said. A recent survey of Red Cross blood donors showed more than 75% indicated vacation plans this summer, many of them occurring the week before and after July 4. Nearly 650 fewer blood drives are held the week of July 4 than during an average week. That is approximately the equivalent of the Red Cross not collecting any blood donations for an entire day.

Eligible blood donors are urged to schedule a donation today by using the Red Cross Blood Donor app, visiting or calling 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Researchers supported by the National Institutes of Health will monitor potential Zika virus exposure among a subset of athletes, coaches and other U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) staff attending the 2016 Summer Olympics and Paralympics in Brazil. The study aims to improve understanding of how the virus persists in the body and to identify potential factors that influence the course of infection, NIH officials said Tuesday.

USOC established an Infectious Disease Advisory Group to help prepare the U.S. Olympic team for travel to Brazil, which is the epicenter of the Zika virus outbreak in the Americas.

To prepare, USOC and the University of Utah conducted a pilot study in March and April 2016. The study was fully enrolled in two days and included 150 participants. Notably, one-third of the pilot group indicated that they or a partner planned to become pregnant within 12 months of the Olympic Games. Before traveling to Brazil, all USOC staff, including athletes and coaches, will be briefed on a number of items, including the Zika outbreak. The 2016 Summer Olympics will take place in Rio de Janeiro from Aug. 5-21, 2016, and the Paralympic Games are scheduled for Sept. 7-18, 2016.

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