Quality Healthcare and Deep Agricultural Roots Make Rural Communities Strong

posted on Monday, December 23, 2019


Walking into the lobby of the Hansen Family Hospital in Iowa Falls, the challenging reality of rural healthcare seems distant, as the inviting interior is matched only by the warm smiles and friendly greetings that welcome every guest. That impression is by design, according to Hansen Family Hospital CEO Doug Morse. “We work hard to create an atmosphere that is inviting and cheerful,” he said.

Jeff and Deb Hansen, owners of Iowa Select Farms, supported the construction of the hospital, donating $1.5 million to the project. In fact, over 425 people donated $7.2 million to the Hansen Family Hospital capital campaign.

Through a combination of fundraising projects, private donations, and private and municipal bonding, the $25-plus-million project came to fruition in just one year, with construction commencing on the southeast edge of Iowa Falls in 2012, and the hospital officially opened its doors to patients in 2014.

“It was a tremendous showing of community support,” said Morse. “There was such a strong recognition of what makes rural cities and town thrive—jobs, schools, main street businesses and access to quality health care.”

The 25-bed, critical access hospital is the only hospital in Hardin County and also serves part of Franklin County. Outreach care is provided by four affiliated physician clinics, and the hospital’s emergency room is open 24/7, 365 days a year.

Morse said the hospital’s rural location requires adaptive offerings that meet the needs of local citizens. Telemedicine services and on-site physical therapy reduce travel demands on patients, as do visit specialty clinics for services including cardiology, psychiatry, audiology, and orthopedics.

“We are fortunate to have state-of-the-art, all-digital radiology equipment, and are the only rural hospital in Iowa that has a visiting neurosurgeon,” noted Morse. “And through a unique partnership with Ellsworth Community College and the state Accelerated Career Education program, we serve as an ongoing rotation site at which nursing students receive hands-on training. Often they join the hospital as paid employees when they graduate.”

The local economic impact of the hospital is significant. “Annual salaries and benefits total more than $10 million,” said Morse. “Using a standard rule of thumb that every dollar earned turns over three times, we have an annual impact on the community of about $30 million.”

By instituting a number of rural healthcare best practices, including partnerships and telemedicine, the Hansen Family Hospital improves the quality of life in rural Iowa. “We hear over and over that families appreciate our hospital because they enjoy the benefits of small-town living, but have local access to excellent medical care,” said Morse. “It makes the Iowa Falls area a great place to live, work and raise a family.”