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When a Hospital Isn’t Just a Hospital

Submitted by: Colleen Callahan, Illinois State Director, USDA Rural Development

Question:  Why do you go to a hospital?

A: To visit someone who is sick
B. To get a diagnostic test
C. To see a specialist
D. To have surgery
E. To meet your trainer for your workout
F. All of the above

The answer is F, IF you live in Illinois near the Hillsboro Area Hospital! Did the “E” choice confuse you?  Probably.  But try telling that to the teenager who walked in the door as I was walking out!  Dressed in her workout clothes and headed to the fitness center, she clearly had a different mindset than I had when I was that age.  I remarked to Rex Brown, the hospital administrator, that the only time I went to the hospital when I was in high school was when I, or someone I knew, was sick. But Rex believes it’s a place you should go for wellness, NOT just “sickness.”  He also said that while he was growing up, he never saw an adult “working out.”  And as I thought about it, I realized I had the same “non-experience.”  Living on a farm and in a farming community, the exercise we got was through our labor!

Today the Hillsboro Area Hospital is a destination for adult physical fitness, alongside the routines of their children and grandchildren.  The Aquatic Center finds preschoolers doing water activities in one part of the pool, while 70-somethings do water aerobics in another.  Rex points out that the setting sends a message that exercise is a lifetime requirement…not just for or during a certain point in life.

But what if you do have a medical need?  For that, you enter the same hospital door.  You just turn to the right, instead of the left.  So where does USDA Rural Development come in? I visited Rex and the Hillsboro Area Hospital because we helped meet that need through a Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant.  How will that investment be used?  To teach Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) courses to area high school students.

The Hillsboro Area Hospital serves the area in and around Montgomery County.  Administrator Brown doesn’t just manage employees and the hospital’s money.  He is an employee himself who cares not only about the staff and the “bottom line,” but also the future of the community, its residents and their health…now and in the future.  Thank you, Rex, for your foresight and for the opportunity for USDA Rural Development to help make your vision possible.

USDA is currently soliciting comments on the Telemedicine program.  To find out more, or to participate, click here.

During her visit to Hillsboro Area Hospital, Illinois Rural Development State Director Callahan learned about some of the new roles rural hospitals can play in their communities. The hospital was a recipient of a Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant to provide healthcare courses for high school students.

During her visit to Hillsboro Area Hospital, Illinois Rural Development State Director Callahan learned about some of the new roles rural hospitals can play in their communities. The hospital was a recipient of a Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant to provide healthcare courses for high school students.

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