CARTHAGE, Ill. — The woman on the phone made it perfectly clear just what kind of recognition was being given to Memorial Hospital.
The highly-competitive Outstanding Rural Health Organization Award is the highest presented by the National Rural Health Association.
Memorial Chief Executive Officer Ada Bair recounts the conversation while describing what the award means to the Carthage-based hospital.
“That someone thinks highly enough of what we do, the outreach, the services, and recognizes what we’re trying to do on a rural footprint was worthy enough to get the attention of a national organization is truly a very, very humbling experience,” Bair said. “I’m just so proud for my team and for our region to be recognized. I take a lot of pride in putting this spotlight on rural health care in Illinois.”
A celebration of the award, open to the public, will take place 5 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the hospital campus at 1454 N. County Road 2050.
A short program including community and regional proclamations will begin at 5:15 p.m. followed by a sneak peek viewing of the acceptance video that will be shown later this month at the NRHA award ceremony.
NHRA is dedicated to improving the health and well-being of rural Americans through advocacy, education and outreach. The Outstanding Rural Health Organization Award recognizes hospitals and health care organizations that have made significant contributions to improving the health and well-being of rural communities across the country.
“I’m blessed with a team that works hard and really, really cares about their community,” Bair said. “That’s one of the things I think happens in rural America across the country. You’re taking care of your family, your next-door neighbor. You know the people coming into your emergency department.”
Nominated for the award by colleagues in the Illinois Critical Access Hospital Network, Memorial is being recognized for its evolution and impact on the community.
Twenty years ago when Bair first came to Carthage, Memorial had some 125 employees. Now it has more than 400, with over 100 providers either employed or contracted on the medical staff offering a range of outreach clinics and services.
“It’s about the fact we opened a child care and early learning center, about what we do on our senior campus with dementia care and the broad spectrum of senior service,” Bair said. “We’ve got the Hancock County Addiction Coalition. We’ve launched the behavior health coalition.”
Bair sees the award as a springboard to more partnerships and more changes to meet community needs.
“We can always be better. We can always do more, do a little more innovation,” Bair said. “How we deliver service today and the kind of service we deliver may not meet the needs of our community tomorrow, so we have to be ready to change.”
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