SEARCH stands for “Sustaining Essential and Rural Community Healthcare.” Our group was formed in reaction to the pending closure of a service we consider essential, Labor and Delivery. That was in June of 2017 and after that service was removed from Blue Ridge Regional Hospital on September 30, 2017, SEARCH realized that it was important to document the services we want to maintain – and in some cases develop – to ensure the health of our local community. Consulting the sources listed at the end, SEARCH created the list, which was presented for comments at monthly meetings beginning in early 2018. The list at the link below reflects modifications made during the first half of 2018.
In March 2018 we learned that non-profit Mission Health System had entered into a Letter of Intent to be acquired Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), the largest for-profit hospital system in the country. Mission Health and HCA have indicated that the agreement will be set up so that there will be no changes to services at any of the Mission sites for 5 years. This news heightened our resolve to establish the baseline of services that we want preserved locally. We needed to be able to document if any services change in the first 5 years of ownership by HCA.
At the May 17, 2018 Community Conversation on Healthcare event, sponsored by the NC Justice Center and hosted by SEARCH, participants were asked to sign a copy of the list to affirm that they agree that this is the list of services these two counties want to continue to have available locally. At that event 36 people signed the document.
This document will no doubt continue to evolve, and we intend to continue asking for signatures at future meetings and events.
- The Affordable Care Act’s essential services list, dated March 23, 2010
- The American Hospital Associations essential services list published in a report by the Task Force on Ensuring Access in Vulnerable Communities, dated November 29, 2016
- A list compiled by Mitchell and Yancey County doctors in response to the loss of Labor and Delivery services at Blue Ridge Regional Hospital and published in both county newspapers in August, 2017.