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Charleston Business

MUSC Health Signs Agreement With Hampton Regional Medical Center To Transform rural health care Delivery, Expand Access

May 23, 2019 12:12PM

MUSC Health, the clinical enterprise of the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), has signed a strategic alliance with Hampton Regional Medical Center (HRMC) that will transform how rural health care is delivered in South Carolina. Together, MUSC and HRMC plan to extend primary and specialty care to serve Hampton County and surrounding areas by leveraging the combination of advanced practitioners, the latest telehealth services, and supportive oversight by MUSC specialists.

“South Carolina continues to be one of the nation’s leaders in telemedicine, due in no small part to the fantastic work in the field being done by MUSC,” said Gov. Henry McMaster. “Telemedicine is a vital component of rural health care, and we couldn’t be happier with this new partnership between MUSC and Hampton Regional Medical Center.”

Established in 1950, HRMC has overcome many obstacles to build and sustain a facility that provides excellent health care services. Through the years, the hospital has earned numerous awards and positive Press Ganey patient satisfaction scores. HRMC has also been a constant advocate for technological advancement and expansion of medical services throughout the Lowcountry. Working in tandem with HRMC, MUSC will deliver its brand, quality, and physician expertise to all area residents. The specific intent is to keep care within the local community and within the existing HRMC health care system, as medically appropriate.

“Oftentimes, people living in the service areas of rural hospitals travel to larger facilities in urban areas to receive care that, with today’s telehealth technology, can be provided closer to home,” said Patrick J. Cawley, MUSC Health CEO and vice president for Health Affairs, University.

Outmigration, which describes rural residents who leave their communities for health care needs, may be necessary when an advanced level of care is required; however, in many instances, rural residents can receive the quality care they need in their home communities, which benefits both patients and their loved ones. The shift of community residents away from their hometown hospitals takes a heavy toll on the financial stability and viability of rural health facilities. MUSC hopes to remedy outmigration and retain significantly more care locally by fully leveraging telehealth technologies.

”HRMC is a pillar in the community and it is our shared commitment to use technology and our deep bench of health care specialists to increase access to the variety of health care services available in this market,” Cawley noted. “In collaboration with HRMC, we have developed a working model that will enhance the level of care offered in rural communities and, simultaneously, lend critical support to rural hospitals,” he said. “Moving forward, we can replicate this distinct model of rural health care delivery in rural communities across South Carolina and, potentially, at a national level.”

In recent years, four rural, South Carolina hospitals have closed due to financial forces that made their operations unsustainable, including an insufficient volume of patients, escalating costs, and decreasing reimbursements for services delivered. The market challenges that precipitated these closures continue to mount, making immediate access to quality care difficult at best in many rural areas.

HRMC has some distinctly positive characteristics in place to combat existing market forces. As Hampton County’s sole not-for-profit hospital, the facility is equipped with state-of-the-art, cutting-edge technology. HRMC physicians and advanced practitioners, including nurse practitioners and physician assistants, will work alongside MUSC physicians via telehealth and satellite clinics to improve further the already solid level of care delivery at HRMC.

HRMC, an 82,000-square-foot, 32-bed facility, also encompasses adjacent medical office buildings with state-of-the-art facilities to serve the community. Unlike many rural health facilities with aging infrastructure, HRMC is uniquely positioned to care for the community effectively without the need for large capital investment.

“This concerted partnership between MUSC and HRMC provides a sustainable delivery model for our medical center, ensuring that up-to-the-minute health care is delivered right here within our community,” said Dave Hamill, HRMC CEO. “In addition to our highly skilled physicians, our community has demonstrated a welcoming acceptance of the nurse practitioner and physician assistant patient care model. As a result, we know this collaborative and innovative approach, combined with deploying MUSC’s proven telehealth capabilities that are supported by MUSC physicians, will result in notable increases to both inpatient and outpatient access.”