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Grande Ronde Hospital named 2009 Outstanding Rural Health Organization

Hospital news | Wednesday, March 25, 2009
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Contact: Mardi Ford

Grande Ronde Hospital has been awarded the Outstanding Rural Health Organization of 2009 by the National Rural Health Association (NRHA). According to the NRHA’s notification letter received last week, competition was high, but the award committee chose Grande Ronde Hospital because of the hospital’s “exceptional contribution to rural health services.”

Meaghan McCamman, policy and program services manager for the NRHA said Grande Ronde Hospital’s nomination was “judged upon the scope of your accomplishments in rural outreach, preventative health and education, quality and efficiency of care, and strong community support and involvement.”

Grande Ronde Hospital also has the distinction of being the first Oregon recipient of this award since its inception in 1999, McCamman said.

In his congratulations to hospital staff, Board of Trustees Chair Bob Messinger said the well-deserved award is a tribute to employee’s accomplishments in providing access to outstanding rural health care now and for the future.

“The hospital’s innovative and dedicated staff, with their ‘can-do’ attitude, makes GRH a truly Outstanding Rural Health Organization. It is my honor to be associated with such a fine group of individuals,” Messinger said.

Board Secretary Burr Betts also expressed his appreciation for hospital staff saying, “Thanks for all your hard work that has led to this award, especially since the goal of the work has been to improve care rather than win the award.”

Board member Steve Weishaar congratulated staff, as well. But Weishaar also noted it took Doug Romer's vision for the possibilities of remote presence technology, the leadership of the Hospital’s administrative team for embracing the vision and the Board for their courage to leap into uncharted waters of telemedicine.

Doug Romer, executive director of patient care services, has been the point man for the Hospital’s innovative telemedicine program. He is quick to acknowledge the team effort it took to bring remote presence technology to Eastern Oregon.

“Being recognized by the NRHA is a major accomplishment for our facility. If our docs and our medical staff didn’t embrace this concept, it wouldn’t have happened. If our Board hadn’t agreed to fund the infrastructure to go wireless, it wouldn’t have happened. If Jim (Mattes) and the rest of the executive team hadn’t supported the vision it would not have happened. Clearly, Grande Ronde Hospital is leading the way for the future of specialty medicine in rural America.”

When hospital CEO and President Jim Mattes was first approached by Romer he immediately saw what the remote presence technology could mean for providing quality health care rural residents.

“I think Burr (Betts) hit the nail on the head. Our mission is to improve the access to, and the quality of, health care in this rural region we call home. This national award is further affirmation we are doing the right things for the right reasons,” Mattes said

Grande Ronde Hospital was nominated for the award by the executive director of development for Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise, Mike Ward.

In his nominating letter, Ward said that among the many rural hospitals approached by Saint Alphonsus to partner in a new remote presence technology program, Grande Ronde Hospital stood out.

During the three-month process it became apparent that all hospital administrations, cultures and physician groups are unique. There are varying degrees of professionalism, open-mindedness, willing and collaborative attitudes and the ability to tolerate risk,” said Ward.

“However, it became apparent that this hospital had the enthusiasm, vision and cooperative attitude to mitigate the challenges of its remote location and lengthy travel. As it turns out partnering with GRH was one of the best decisions made during the life of the project,” Ward said.

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Grande Ronde Hospital’s mission is to ensure access to superior quality, affordable health care for all those in need of our services, including underserved populations within our communities. Grande Ronde Hospital is a not-for-profit, Critical Access Hospital offering a broad range of diagnostic, surgical and therapeutic outpatient services. Grande Ronde Hospital is recognized as a premier small and rural healthcare facility. For more information, visit www.grh.org.