Where would our community be without access to healthcare? And where would our community be without a facility like Fitzgibbon Hospital, one of Saline County’s largest employers? Rural communities across the nation have had to wrestle with these questions as their hospitals have not been able to survive the economic headwinds that have impacted them. And yet Fitzgibbon Hospital celebrated its 100-year anniversary last week; and the independent, not-for-profit, 501(c)3 hospital continues to focus on the future of healthcare delivery into the next 100 years.
National Hospital Week provides an opportunity to tell the story of this tremendous community resource.
“When John Fitzgibbon first donated his life’s savings of $50,000 to establish John Fitzgibbon Memorial Hospital in 1923, I wonder if he truly understood the impact it would have on his community,” said Angy Littrell, President and CEO of Fitzgibbon Hospital. “That first year, we delivered five babies. Last year, we delivered 267 babies.”
Fitzgibbon Hospital provides care to all individuals, from women at prenatal visits with OB/Gyn physicians to elderly or critically ill patients seeking hospice care for end-of-life. While some specialties are difficult to recruit to the community, primary care doctors and nurse practitioners provide care in seven designated Rural Health Clinics, including sites in Pilot Grove, Fayette, Slater, Brunswick and three located in Marshall. These primary care clinics service as vital touchpoints, providing access to care in otherwise underserved areas. If patients need it, these sites also will refer to specialists in other cities and follow their patient care as their primary provider.
Fitzgibbon currently offers access to 23 specialties including orthopedics, obstetrics, general surgery, nephrology and wound care. It also provides access to chiropractic care and other visiting specialists, such as podiatry and pain management. By providing access to these specialties, Saline County and surrounding community residents are more likely to seek care when care is needed. Rather than having to travel a good distance out of town.
No one likes to hear the word “cancer” from their physician, but when they do, they can receive care from the renowned cancer care providers from the Missouri Cancer Associates, who staff the Fitzgibbon Community Cancer Center. This state-of-the-art cancer center opened in 2009 thanks to more than $4 million in contributions from the community. Mark Tungesvik, M.D., and William Decker, M.D., have provided care in the Fitzgibbon Community Cancer Center since its opening, which means they have built ongoing relationships with their patients in our community.
Fitzgibbon Hospital is also the only facility within 60 miles that has an inpatient behavioral health unit for care of those who are experiencing a mental health crisis. This unit treats adults between the ages of 18 to 65 and seeks to help stabilize those who are struggling with mental health challenges or behaviors that make them a danger to themselves or others. Individuals are brought to the Fitzgibbon Behavioral Health Unit, through the Emergency Department from as far away as Arkansas and Cape Girardeau. The fact that the BHU receives patients from so far outside of the hospital’s normal coverage area is a testament to not only the shortage of overall mental health beds in our state but also the quality of care the patients receive at Fitzgibbon.
In addition to the aforementioned services, Fitzgibbon Hospital also provides care through The Living Center, a 99-bed licensed long-term care facility. This facility, adjacent to Fitzgibbon Hospital and accessible via a hallway, became part of the organization in the early 1990s when the hospital purchased what used to be known as the Saline County Rest Home. Leadership at that time decided to build a brand new facility. This state-of-the-art care center provides nursing and medication management to those unable to live on their own, but it also has a separate memory care unit which seeks to bring dignity and joy to individuals dealing with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
All of these services and programs at Fitzgibbon Hospital require specialized staff with advanced training. With more than 400 employees throughout the Fitzgibbon organization, these employees earned more than $33 Million in salaries and benefits in the last fiscal year, which helped to fuel the local economies in their hometowns. Pair that with the more than $3.6 million in uncompensated (or charity) care provided to those in need, $378,678 provided in community donations and $1.2 million in capital investments to upgrade or maintain the standard of care patients have come to expect, and the overall investment from Fitzgibbon Hospital is calculated at more than $39 million.
“I want to recognize all of you – our employees – who work 24 hours-a-day, 7 days-a-week, to care for our community. With your help and the continued support of our community, Fitzgibbon Hospital will be well-positioned to thrive for another 100 years,” said Angy Littrell at a recent event celebrating the hospital’s 100th birthday.
To mark annual Hospital Week, employees of the facility will be participating in a number of internal activities and recognition events.
To learn more about Fitzgibbon Hospital and its services,visit www.fitzgibbon.org.