ICMC places third in national contest

ICMC staff wins 3rd place in national “My Hospital, My Community” contest

The award is for $5,000 dollars which will be spent to aid the hospital in some fashion as yet to be determined. On hand to receive the award last Thursday were (front row, from left) Brantley Hickman (Controller), Joshua Gilmore (CEO), Ellie Chase (athenahealth Marketing Manager- Community Health Systems), Angie Nations (HR Director) Kayla Chamberlain (Accountant), Debbie Wade (Pharmacy Tech), Lisa McQueen (Athena Director of Hospital Sales), Francis Slape (Housekeeping./Maintenance. Asst.), and Rick Thompson (Maint. Tech), (back row, from left) Craig Browning (Lab Manager), Mark Natale (IT Manager), Christi Johnson (Exec. Asst.), Jim Broombaugh (Facilities Maintenance Mgr.), Sylvia Beard (Purchasing Specialist), Vicki Branstetter (Community Champion), Marjorie Taylor (Lead Housekeeper), Steve Creek (Infection/Quality RN) and Dr. Bruce Harrison (ER Medical Director).

Iron County Medical Center (ICMC) administrators and staff gathered Thursday afternoon to accept high honors, and money, in a national competition.

“My Hospital, My Community” is a contest sponsored by anthenahealth, one of ICMC’s providers and a nationwide company providing support to hospitals and medical groups in such areas as Revenue Cycle Management and Electronic Health Records.

The contest drew nearly 700 submissions from 150 rural hospitals across the country. To enter, hospitals were required to complete a video spotlighting the local institution and the community’s relationship.

Local staff members and patients could also submit personal stories of what the local institution meant to them.

From those submissions, athenahealth choose the top 25 and then randomly drew 5 winners from that group.  ICMC was awarded 3rd place along with $5,000.

“You guys have a firm grasp of what this hospital means to the community, which is why we created the contest - to shine some attention on the work you do every day and on the importance of these hospitals to your community,” said Ellie Chase, marketing manager - community health systems for athenahealth.

The ICMC video, produced by Sean Kerr with a narration written and spoken by Angie Nations, really drew in the contest judges. 

“We saw your video... and everyone was so emotionally tied to your submission,” Chase said, “that we sighed when your name was drawn as one of the last five.”

The top five winners and the awards included: 1st place $15,000 - Mitchell County Hospital Health Systems, KS; 2nd place - $7,000 Grove Hill Memorial, AL; 3rd place -  $5,000 Iron County Medical Center, MO; 4th - place $2,000 Endless Mountain Health System, PA; and 5th place - $1,000 Brown County Hospital, NE.


Among the top 25 contenders were:

•Big Horn Hospital Association, MT

•Brown County Hospital, NE

•Central Montana Medical Center, MT

•Chadron Community Hospital, NE

•Clarinda Regional Hospital, IA

•Crenshaw Community Hospital, AL

•Eastland Memorial Hospital, TX

•Endless Mountain Health System, PA

•Fairfield Memorial Hospital, IL

•Greene County General Hospital, IN

•Greenwood County Hospital, KS 

•Grove Hill Memorial, AL

•Holton Community Hospital, KS

•Iron County Medical Center, MO

•Lexington Regional Health Center, NE

•Lincoln Community Hospital and Care Center, CO

•Mitchell County, TX

•Mitchell County Hospital Health System, KS

•Pearl River County Hospital, MS

•Powell Valley Health Care, WY

•Republic County Hospital, KS

•St. Vincent Hospital, CO

•Ste. Genevieve County Memorial, MO

•Upland Hills Health, WI

•Winston Medical Center, MS

Chase said the personal stories from the staff and patients also impressed the judges.  One of those she mentioned in particular was from staff member Jess Henderson, who wrote:

“I have been at Iron County Medical Center for over 7 years. I started working here 2 days after graduating nursing school. I walked through the doors on my first day and fell in love. The staff welcomed me with open arms and quickly became a second family. I have seen many employees come and go through the years but one thing has remained the same; everyone that works here is dedicated to providing compassionate care. 

“I’ll be honest, everyone doesn’t always get along or see eye to eye; this just happens when you spend so much time with the same people. But at a moment’s notice all differences are put aside to focus on our number one priority; the patients that we are there to care for. We are now the last remaining Critical Access Hospital within about 30 miles of our location. Larger facilities are even further away. When seconds matter, we are there. When you are ill, we are there. When your baby is crying incessantly through the night and you’re sure something is wrong, we are there. We will be tough when we need to be. We will share our knowledge and educate you when it’s necessary. And sometimes, when our human emotions get the best of us, we will hold your hand and cry with you. 

“I intend to work out my nursing career at Iron County Medical Center. Every medical facility serves it’s purpose. But I have always thought that this one was extra special. I don’t know if it’s the way that everyone who walks through our doors is treated with respect and dignity. Or maybe it’s the way that all of our departments work so well together. Maybe it’s because we’re one big family. I can’t say for sure but there’s something special about this place.”

ICMC CEO Joshua Gilmore said the staff came up with the idea of entering the contest.

“They came to me and said, ‘We really need to go for this! I think we can totally get it!’” he said.  “It was amazing and fun because it engaged all the staff.  Everybody got involved and started sharing their stories, talking about all the good things that had either happened to them or a loved one and what this place has meant to them over the years. It really created a sense of ownership and camaraderie about our story of survival. It was neat to be a part of that.”

“The whole point of the contest was to help throw national attention to the importance of rural hospitals,” Chase said. “These hospitals can literally mean the difference between life and death.”



ICMC video script


(Editor’s Note: The following is the script for the video narration submitted for the contest. The video itself has been posted on The Mountain Echo’sFacebook page.)


Whose place is this, I think I know,

It sits far in the valley though,

Not many know that we are here,

Trudging on through financial woe …..


A Robert Frost I’m not, but I believe these words are very pertinent to Iron County Medical Center.

Our amazing Critical Access Hospital is situated in Iron County – a county with beautiful landscapes, a variety of cultural and outdoor activities, tightknit families, friends, neighbors, and business folks who care about each other and our surrounding communities.  But our county ranks very high on the list of Missouri counties with serious health issues – diabetes, COPD, Cancer, and other chronic illnesses – and we’re in the top 10 counties of Missouri for opioid abuse.  As in many rural areas, a large portion of Iron County’s population have very labor intensive livelihoods – mining, logging, farming , construction – with a fairly large group of senior citizens and veterans.  And yes, there is a lot of poverty.  Regardless of the socioeconomics of the area, many who desperately need medical care are those that do not have the way nor the means to travel to obtain that care.

That’s where we come in.  We are here to provide quality, compassionate care right here close to home.  We are here when every second matters.  To put it bluntly – we improve lives, and many times, we save lives.  Our entire team at Iron County Medical Center is committed to that task – taking care of our families, our friends, our neighbors, anyone who enters our doors – in a compassionate, courteous and respectful manner. We have a hospital with 24/7 Emergency Care, a specialty care clinic with 14 contracted specialists and a rural health clinic, to address a full spectrum of health care needs.

Like many other Critical Access Hospitals across the country, we have some serious financial struggles. Those struggles forced us to file Chapter 9 Bankruptcy in the first quarter of 2018 to allow us enough breathing room to restructure.  Our biggest challenge has been “How do we allocate our resources to make sure that we provide the best possible healthcare to our patients while at the same time ensuring that we have the financial ability to pay our bills and continue growing and improving our services to meet patient needs?”  Well, we start by living the motto “Failure is not an option!”  As a very engaged team, we have boosted our efforts to make sure we don’t become a closure casualty like other nearby Missouri facilities – Reynolds County Hospital in Ellington, Twin Rivers Hospital in Kennett and Southeast Hospital of Ripley County in Doniphan.  Incidentally, closures such as this are becoming common in US rural areas where a staggering 85 rural communities have lost their medical facilities since 2010.

ALL of our team members at ICMC are taking strides to make sure that doesn’t happen here.  Some of the major issues we have tackled and accomplished over the past 8 months include:  getting the vote out utilizing yard signs, post cards, town hall meetings, phone calls and over the fence neighborly chats to get a ½ cent sales tax passed;  working with a major pharmaceutical supplier, our banks and our local pharmacies to implement the 340b pharmacy savings program;  utilizing Ameren Missouri grant opportunities to upgrade lighting and current equipment  or to replace outdated equipment – whether structural or medical – and being awarded a federal grant for targeted technical assistance during our re-structure process;  with the help of our auxiliary, we were able to purchase a lawn tractor to perform grounds keeping and snow removal by our employee maintenance team instead of contracting it out; we were able to get our commercial insurance partners to come to the table and re-negotiate our commercial insurance contracts for a more fair cost to revenue ratio;  we’ve updated and upgraded our facility structure, grounds and ER signage through donations and grants – with employees doing much of the work; we’ve submitted grant applications and been awarded  a grant to replace high dollar, worn out major HVAC components.  

We’ve also received grant assistance for various initiatives from our local Edgar Grant Foundation.  Our hospital auxiliary has fundraisers throughout the year to raise money for grounds improvement, equipment, a healing garden pergola for patients and employees alike, free mammograms for those in our county who are under or uninsured, – and even a popcorn machine in our cafeteria for employees and patients to enjoy the aroma and taste of fresh popped corn.  We help families in need through our employee fund that operates strictly through employee donations and fund raisers.  We have community outreach initiatives including a “ladies night out” in October to promote breast cancer awareness, and an after school program for K-8 students to promote health and safety awareness. Our employees hold a winter coat drive for students in our communities who can’t afford coats, a fund drive at Christmas to purchase gifts for the needy and a helping hand program for fellow employees in need.  Our employee events are funded by employee donations – fish fries, chili cook-offs, birthday celebrations, holiday parties, etc.  We are small but mighty – and we seek to do mighty good things for our patients and our communities while keeping our spirits and hopes up at all times.

We ask that you give us serious consideration as entrants and contenders in your contest.  We have so much more that we want to do and need to do to meet our 5-year goal – to be one of the top 100 Critical Access Hospitals in the country. . . . . . We can do it, we know we can!

Yes, this place is lovely, in the valley so deep,

And our community commitments we intend to keep,

So we have miles to go before we sleep, yep miles to go before we sleep.


(Taken from the Robert Frost Poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”)