Medical care in rural hospitals challenged during pandemic

The ever-changing nature of the coronavirus has made life in rural hospitals even more challenging, but the new chief executive officer of the Indiana Rural Health Association says she is doing all she can to meet that challenge.

Cara Veale was selected by the IHRA Board of Directors to be the next CEO after Don Kelso retires. Kelso’s last day is July 31. He has been bringing Veale up to speed during the transition.

“Coming from the rural hospital world prior to this position, there are a lot of situations that rural hospitals must overcome financially, and that might mean paying a premium top dollar to recruit providers to the area,” Veale said in an interview with Inside Indiana Business. “There’s a lot we have to do financially which taxes rural hospitals anyways. Throw a pandemic on top of it, and it makes it more challenging.”

In that interview, she also discussed some of the top priorities for the IHRA .

“Keeping our rural hospitals and health partners aware and abreast of changes and recommendations, and new and innovative ways to deliver care as a result of changes with COVID-19 is number one,” said Veale.

She also says the implementation and development of telehealth are imperative. But Veale also says they cannot forget about the prior issues they were dealing with before the pandemic.

“That does include issues surrounding opioid and substance abuse disorders. Addiction, prevention, and recovery will continue to be a strong area of focus as well, said Veale.

Infant mortality and the lack of obstetrician-gynecological services in rural areas of Indiana will also be a point of emphasis for the IHRA.

Veale began her career at Daviess Community Hospital in 2007 in Washington, where she was most recently the vice president of provider services.

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