It can come down to seconds to save your life in an emergency. But not every Mississippian lives near a major hospital. So, they depend on one of 45 small rural hospitals across the state.
"I think most of the time, people just assume that the hospital will always be there," said Magee General Hospital CIO Kirby Craft. "The absence of those is just unimaginable."
The costs of operation and maintenance are more than most can handle. And they're searching for ways to stay afloat.
"Just got all sorts of challenges with the new Affordable Care Act that came in and all the changes that are taking place." said Winston County Medical Center CFO Paul Black. "And specifically the way it's going in the state of Mississippi, it's getting to be a real challenge to get sustainable financing and to actually get paid for the services we provide."
That's where a new pilot program by the USDA comes into play. Mississippi is one of just five states in the pilot.
The rural hospitals want to remain viable and attract new doctors and nurses.
"They're having to adopt the electronic health records," said Mend al Kemp, who serves as Director of the Mississippi Hospital Association's Center for Rural Health. "There's some incentive money available through Medicare and Medicaid to assist the hospitals but it doesn't cover everything. There are a lot of costs."
Through a two day workshop, providers are learning about how they can apply for grants and loans to pay for the new technology.
"When you have that broadband and you're able to transmit those documents from one doctor/patient to another, then yeah, you're looking and saving lives in a split second," said Trina George, USDA Rural Development Mississippi Director.
These hospitals could receive anywhere from hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars through these grants and loans.
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