Work performed by the nonprofit will be absorbed into St. Charles Health Systems

After committing four years of work to enhance the health care available in Crook County, Rimrock Health Alliance has been dissolved.

The nonprofit organization was formed with the intent of improving healthcare in the community, particularly through recruiting physicians and bringing in more health care providers.

The decision to dissolve, effective June 30, was made by its board of directors after careful thought and consideration was given to whether the organization had met its objectives and whether future goals could be met under a different platform.

“What they decided to do is the functions that Rimrock had [performed] have been absorbed back into PMH (Pioneer Memorial Hospital) as far as recruitment and retention,” said Health Alliance and St. Charles employee Christa Papke.

When Rimrock Health Alliance was formed, its long-term future was not set in stone, despite the fact that founders expected the needs it was meeting to remain ongoing.

“I think we expected that the things we were trying to achieve would need somebody doing those forever,” said Rimrock Board Chair Dr. Bruce Williams. “I don’t know if we ever talked about if it would be us that would be doing it forever.”

Nevertheless, during the short existence of the organization, Williams feels substantial progress was made to improve local healthcare.

“If you look at the number of physicians we have attracted to this community in the last several years compared to the national average of a rural area, we are much, much higher,” he said. “We have been extremely effective. A community our size can expect to attract a physician probably every five years, and we’ve had four new providers in just over two years.”

Williams said that Rimrock took a different approach to physician recruitment that he not only feels resonated more with potential recruits, but helped with physician retention as well.

“I think a big part of it was we were not promoting our practices. We were not promoting our hospital,” he said. “We were promoting a community and we involved a lot of the community to do that.”

Rather than compete with other practices or hospitals for physicians, like many other healthcare facilities, they would consider physicians for the entire community whether it was Pioneer Memorial Hospital or Mosaic Medical.

Regarding doctor retention, Williams added that the Rimrock strategy helped ensure that physicians would stay in the Crook County, because the organization was drawing them there by promoting the whole community.

“The worst thing you can do for a community is to bring in a physician with all of this promise and all of this hype and have them be unhappy here and leave after a few years,” he said.

Having dissolved Rimrock, the board hopes for PMH and St. Charles Health Systems to continue its work and achieve the results that they did as a nonprofit organization.

“It is absolutely the intent of this board that I will, and PMH will, continue to do that through provider reception, sponsorship, and support of other clinics,” Papke said. “We built a really good thing in Crook County and we want to make sure we are able to sustain it regardless of the name.”

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