Improving Patient Care in NE Wyoming
Wednesday, January 09, 2019
Residents in rural America face more challenges than their urban counterparts in accessing quality healthcare. Lack of specialized local services can force people to travel long distances to get the care they need, which can mean unnecessary delays in care and diagnoses.
The Powder River Energy Corporation (PRECorp) Foundation made two recent grants that will help significantly improve patient care in Northeast Wyoming. The Campbell County Healthcare Foundation (CCHCF) and the Crook County Medical Services District (CCMSD) both received $10,000 grants from the foundation to help purchase critical medical equipment.
The grants included a generous matching donation from PRECorp’s wholesale electricity provider, Basin Electric Power Cooperative, and demonstrate the PRECorp Foundation’s powerful partnership with area nonprofits as well as its commitment to improve the quality of life of its member owners and the communities in which they live.
Campbell County Healthcare Foundation Donation
The CCHCF contribution was directed toward the Cancer Care Committee’s capital campaign to help fund a positron-emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) scanner for the Heptner Cancer Center at Campbell County Health. This upgraded equipment will greatly advance local care because it can help detect cancer and determine whether the disease has spread, often before a routine CT or MRI scan.
Currently, patients either have to wait for the mobile scanning unit to come (which happens twice a month) or travel out of town for scans. Having access to a local scanner will improve patient care, convenience and accessibility, according to Nachelle McGrath, CCHCF executive director.
The PET/CT scanner fundraising campaign was expected to last two years but was completed in 13 months with a grand total of $782,500 raised. The CCHCF plans to hold a dedication of the new PET/CT scanner in April 2019.
“The community support for this campaign was overwhelming!” says McGrath, noting that the volunteer committee and donor support in Gillette and the surrounding communities were integral to its success.
“Having the scanner as part of each patient’s comprehensive care plan will ultimately give our cancer center the opportunity to be more competitive with surrounding, regional cancer centers,” says McGrath. “This equipment will also keep patients home during their care, which is crucial as most patients do not feel up to traveling.”
Crook County Medical Services District Donation
The CCMSD recently completed $1.5 million of renovations to the Sundance Hospital’s aging imaging department and emergency room, including an upgrade from a 16-slice CT scan to a 64-slice CT scan.
The facility was originally built in 1961 and hadn’t been renovated or improved much since. The PRECorp Foundation grant was used to help purchase updated equipment as part of the project.
“We were falling way behind with the equipment we had,” explains CCMSD Chief Executive Officer Nathan Hough. “The goal was to bring care up to what the industry norm is.”
The emergency room is recognized by the State of Wyoming as a Trauma Receiving Facility. It already leads the state in identification and transfer of patients in instances of acute heart attack and stroke. Hough credits “outstanding staff and providers” for this and says the equipment upgrades will solidify this standing and augment patient care.
The ER’s volume has tripled in the last year and a half. Now that the facility’s treatment and diagnostic capabilities have improved, Hough anticipates this growth will continue.
Bolstering the capabilities of these healthcare facilities is not just positive for local patient care. It can also have an economic impact. McGrath expects Campbell County’s improvements will draw people to Gillette for doctoring from neighboring rural areas around the region.
Quality healthcare infrastructure can also attract new residents, and ultimately drive economic growth. Hough says that’s already happening in Crook County. He says a number of hospital staff, including paramedics and nurses, have relocated and purchased homes in the area.
Powder River Energy Corporation (PRECorp) is known as northeastern Wyoming’s preferred energy provider. The nonprofit cooperative also works diligently with its member owners to improve the communities it serves. PRECorp has developed powerful partnerships with private, public and nonprofit organizations. These collaborative efforts aim to strengthen communities and create a more diverse economy.