By Dennis Volkert
Sturgis Hospital has received designation as a “Rural Emergency Hospital.”
The designation was granted by Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
Jeremy Grump, interim CEO at Sturgis Hospital, said the facility is the first in the state to be designated as REH.
Key elements of an REH designation, according to Gump:
Enhanced emergency medical services. Sturgis Hospital aims to expand its emergency department capability, ensuring the availability of advanced medical technology and resources to handle emergency cases effectively.
Quicker access to life-saving care. The hospital will be equipped to reduce the time necessary for patients to receive essential medical attention during an emergency.
Streamlining of patient transfer. Involves improved coordination with larger medical facilities, simplifying patient transfers when specialized treatment is necessary.
Increased federal funding. REH status makes Sturgis Hospital eligible for additional federal funding, which will be reinvested to improve health care infrastructure and services for the community.
“We are honored to be recognized as the first Rural Emergency Hospital in Michigan,” Gump said. “This designation reaffirms our commitment to serve our rural community with the utmost dedication and compassion.”
Sturgis Hospital, founded in 1925, has struggled financially for several years, and has been in danger of closure in recent months. Pursuit of finding a buyer continues. The possibility of federal funding could allow more flexibility for that process.
Jeff Mullins, mayor of Sturgis, said last week he is “very excited” that the hospital received the designation.
“A functioning emergency medical facility is absolutely critical to Sturgis and the surrounding communities,” Mullins said, in an email statement “We are fortunate to have the hard-working, loyal employees at Sturgis Hospital. They’ve hung in there through the most difficult of times and should all be commended for that. I’m grateful for the services Sturgis hospital has and will continue to provide our community, as we look to transition forward with a potential buyer.”
Designation as REH is an important step toward maintaining crucial community services in the region, said Brian Peters, CEO of Michigan Health & Hospital Association, in a statement.
“We have worked very closely with Sturgis throughout the process and congratulate them on being one of the first hospitals in the country to receive this designation, which we hope will provide long-term sustainability,” Peters said.
According to National Conference of State Legislatures, REH is a provider designation established by Congress through Consolidated Appropriations Acts of 2021. It is intended to reinforce access to outpatient medical services and reduce health-care disparity in areas that may not be able to sustain a full-service hospital.
Beginning in January 2023, critical-access hospitals and small, rural hospitals with no more than 50 beds may apply for REH designation and receive Medicare payment to provide emergency services.