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  Tuesday January 27th, 2015    

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  (ARCHIVES)Back to Current
Healthcare ‘sweet spot’ (07/25/2007)
During my five-year tenure in Winona, my enchantment with this community has grown " from its people and the diverse business environment to its natural beauty and expanding cultural opportunities. Winona's history illustrates how the engagement of visionary and philanthropic individuals can foster the growth and prosperity of a community.

The story of healthcare in Winona deserves mention. More than 113 years ago several physicians identified the need for a hospital to serve their patients, and they engaged key leaders in the community to bring this vision to reality. The birth of the hospital occurred through their leadership and the commitment of the Winona community to take care of its own. There is an unwritten covenant that exists between a community-owned not-for-profit hospital and its community. In Winona, this covenant was established 113 years ago and is held in trust today by Winona Health with the community.

Healthcare has evolved over the past century. Many of us do not remember life before Medicare, Medicaid or health insurance. Payment might have included baked or canned goods and chickens, while today there is a mind-boggling system of co-pays, deductibles, networks, and pre-authorizations. Technology of old included the rotary phone, and today our diagnostic, imaging, surgical and medical record technology warrants a Star Trek designation. This explosion of growth has provided our community with an economic engine that has driven growth in jobs, investments in the community and an influx of new dollars - more than $27 million dollars annually - into our community.

I often ponder this evolution as I envision what the future has in store for us. There is nostalgia for the days when physicians were able to simply focus on taking care of their patients with the support of the nursing staff. But medical advancements are inspiring. More services can be provided in smaller communities like Winona than ever before, increasing access and convenience for patients. While none of us ever wants to be in need of services, the fact is that we all will need the healthcare system one or many times during our lives. We all have an interest in ensuring high quality healthcare is available in our community.

Winonans are truly fortunate to live in a healthcare "sweet spot." The primary care focus of our local healthcare system is an exceptional foundation. Birth through end of life healthcare services bracket the miracle moments that we are privileged to experience with community members. And access to specialty care in the region surrounds us with choices that are the envy of small (and large!) communities across the United States. The collaborative relationships our local physicians and hospital have with our region's tertiary centers ensure that community members receive the care and services they need.

The current national healthcare dilemma will be with us for years to come, and it will likely overshadow the true purpose of the work of physicians and healthcare staff. I will not lose sight of the efforts of our exceptional local providers to cure, heal and care deeply for our patients, residents and our community. At the end of the day, I know Winona will rise to the present day challenges with the entrepreneurial and philanthropic spirit that founded this community and then its hospital 113 years ago.

Rachelle Schultz is Winona Health President/CEO



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