Great River Health Hospitals to Apply for New Classification

Great River Medical Center and Fort Madison Community Hospital will apply to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services for Sole Community Hospital (SCH) classification in 2021. The SCH program was created to maintain access to needed health services for Medicare beneficiaries in rural communities by providing greater reimbursement.

Hospitals must meet specific criteria for SCH classification, including distance from other hospitals. To meet the proximity requirement, Great River Medical Center and Fort Madison Community Hospital will become one hospital with two campuses. The new hospital will be renamed Southeast Iowa Regional Medical Center, operating under parent corporation Great River Health. A reduction in employees is not anticipated.

“The goal is to make the change July 1,” said Matt Wenzel, president and chief executive officer, Great River Health. “This rapid timeline is in response to the pandemic’s financial impact on the hospitals, and it will help ensure long-term financial sustainability for health care in southeast Iowa.

Great River Medical Center and Fort Madison Community Hospital became partners under Great River Health Aug. 1, 2018. Because integration began two years ago, patients will notice few changes beyond the new name.

The recently identified SCH program triggered the name change.

“It would have been easiest to apply one existing name to the other location, but this is an opportunity to rebrand and strengthen our partnership,” Wenzel said. “Southeast Iowa Regional Medical Center will be one unified hospital serving the tristate area.”

Great River Health introduced new hospital logos earlier this year. The icon will remain the same; only the names of the hospitals will change.

In November, the Henry County Health Center Board of Trustees approved a Memorandum of Understanding to pursue an expanded lease agreement with Great River Health. If the agreement is approved by voters in March, Henry County Health Center would not be affected by this classification change. Its name and status as a Critical Access Hospital will remain the same.