With over 63 years of service, Rooks County Health Center (RCH) has experienced tremendous growth in the last ten years since moving to the current facility. In celebration of this ten-year milestone, RCH is hosting a public open house 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, September 22, 1210 N. Washington Street, just off US HWY 183 north of Plainville.
Attendees will enjoy free refreshments of brisket, cake, sno cones, popcorn and beverages. Free entertainment for the open house includes, bounce houses, Sunflower Clydesdales wagon rides, Nex-Tech train rides, human foosball, fly-in and tour by Eagle Med, an ambulance tour and a tour of the Rooks County Transportation Van. Tours of the hospital require a reservation as groups are limited to 10 people at a time. To reserve a time for a tour of the RCH campus, call Eric Sumearll 785-688-4428. Door prizes will be awarded during the open house with the Rooks County Healthcare Foundation’s 50/50 raffle drawing concluding the day’s activities.
“Change is never easy. Thirteen years ago, the community was faced with a decision, to renovate the Plainville Rural Hospital as it was, or, make the bold move of building a new facility with a new name,” commented Eric Sumearll, RCH Director of Communications and Development. “Looking back is easy and Saturday we want to celebrate with our community, who had the vision to create Rooks County Health Center and share a little of the vision soon to come.”
According to Sumearll there are many achievements to recognize. Most recently, RCH received a national award for creating awareness and improving treatment for sepsis, the body’s life-threatening response to infection. RCH was the first critical access hospital in the nation to receive the honor. This national award is one of many since moving to the new facility ten years ago, however, the greatest recognition according to Sumearll is seeing the increase of services for Rooks County residents and the surrounding communities. Especially when compared to the fate of so many other rural hospitals in the nation who have either had to close or make severe cutbacks to services in order to survive.
“Rooks County has a long tradition of great healthcare, the ‘then’ new facility allowed for better recognition of these services and provided room for growth,” explained Sumearll. For example, the former Saturday walk-in clinic was rebranded and expanded to become Doctors Without Delay, open six days a week with extended hours from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Being the first daily walk-in clinic in the region brought patients to RCH from all over, according to Sumearll, attributing to a 479% growth in the last ten years. Prior to Doctors Without Delay, patients, who felt too ill to wait for an appointment with their primary caregiver, would have to go to the emergency room at great expense.
Deciding to build the new facility with an eye towards attracting young families to the area led to creating two state-of-the-art labor and delivery suites complete with a jacuzzi bath for mothers and fold-out beds for family. Mothers could now remain in one room throughout labor, delivery and recovery and have a variety of birth plan options. This foresight led to a 267% increase in births over the last ten years.
Inpatient services have increased 24% while emergency room registrations dropped 11%. A possible indicator that Rooks County residents are being more proactive in their healthcare. Lab tests and digital imaging procedures have increased by 39% and 43% respectively. Some of these increases are due to initiatives like First Friday Screenings, which allow the public to order their own health screenings without a doctor’s order and receive them at a discount. Most notably is the growth of in-house physicians and visiting specialists that the current facility now hosts.
“While some may think if you build it, they will come,” explained Sumearll. “That simply is not true. Alongside the physical transformation, our staff’s chosen culture of caring grew to be one of the best examples in healthcare and our greatest recruiting tool. These physicians could set up their practices anywhere but it’s the staff and the community that keeps them coming back to RCH. They love coming here.”
On the heels of Saturday’s open house celebration is the 35th anniversary of the founding of RCH’s Auxiliary, a group of dedicated volunteers who promote and advance the welfare of Rooks County Health Center. Details regarding the Auxiliary’s anniversary and service will be on display at Saturday’s open house.