As Winona Health celebrates its 125 years of serving the Winona regional community, it is important to reflect on the value of a community hospital and healthcare organization.

Over the past 125 years, community-owned hospitals have been there for individuals in their time of need. Whether it is an emergency or trauma situation, an acute illness, management of chronic conditions, or prevention and wellness, community healthcare organizations are deeply embedded into the fabric of a community. Over the years, more specialties have emerged as medicine has evolved, yet the foundation of all healthcare is primary care—always has been, always will be. It is where the healthcare process begins.

The physicians, associate providers, clinicians and staff at Winona Health have always held in great trust their relationships with patients and residents. Not every provider is cut out to practice in a rural environment—it takes a special provider, a commitment to the community, and a desire to be engaged and involved. We are so fortunate to have such a medical staff at Winona Health. We have had a few providers who have come and found out quickly that rural medicine is not for them. That is ok—there is a place for them somewhere.

What’s also meaningful as we celebrate 125 years, is the impact that Winona Health has across the community. The National Center for Rural Health Works developed a tool to measure the direct and indirect economic impact of various types of hospitals in rural communities. Winona Health employs nearly 1,100 people with a full-time equivalent count of 850. Our payroll and benefits are over $77 million annually. And the impact doesn’t end there. The secondary impact of this is an additional 462 jobs bringing the total to 1,562. The secondary impact of payroll and benefits is over $17 million for a total of $94,710,000 of economic impact in our community! And when we look at the economic impact, these dollars are “new” to the community, meaning they come from outside sources, specifically Medicare and Medicaid. While those dollars are related to employment (i.e. taxes) they do come back to our community. It is all connected.

Finally, this economic impact goes even deeper as Winona Health invests into the community through partnerships with employers, government, social service agencies, schools and more. As a connected community, we all need to be aware of and support each other—and where possible, leverage our respective resources to help people in our community.

As rural hospitals across the U.S. are challenged (and many have closed), it is our mutually supportive working relationships that help our whole community thrive. At Winona Health we care about everyone. The cost of healthcare has become a burden to patients, residents, employers, etc. Everyone at Winona Health diligently focuses on cost reductions because we recognize this burden and have been making great strides in reducing costs. We are in this to care for people—all people.

As we celebrate our 125th year of service to the Winona regional community, we thank everyone for your support and patronage. We are privileged to do the important work we do across Winona Health, and we do not take our place in the community for granted.

Rachelle Schultz, EdD

Through this digital column, I hope to shine a light on what we’re working on both internally and beyond our walls in collaboration with other community-focused organizations.

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