True Grit at Lost Rivers. Saving a hospital from the brink with CEO, Brad Huerta.

peerspectrum podcast- brad huerta-lost rivers medical center

Name: Brad Huerta, MPA

Location: Lost Rivers Medical Center. Arco, ID

Specialty: Hospital CEO

We’ve all heard the bad news about rural hospitals in the U.S. 60 million of our fellow citizens rely on these small hospitals, often known by their designation as critical access facilities. According to a recent analysis conducted by the consulting firm, Navigant, 21% of rural hospitals today are at a severe risk of closure. That includes 430 hospitals across 43 states, representing 21,000 staffed beds, 150,000 employees and $21 billion in revenue. When one of these hospitals closes (and 95 have so far since 2010) critical access to care isn’t the only casualty. These hospitals are often largest employers and drivers of economic activity in their communities. The ripple effects are felt wide and deep every time a hospital shuts its doors.

OK, that’s the bad news. How about some good news? Today we’re making the trip to a remote town in Idaho, known as Arco. With a population of only 900, Arco is small. You won’t find many restaurants, you won’t even find a Walmart but you will find a hospital. A small 14 bed hospital called Lost Rivers (by the way, what a cool name for a hospital, right). Its existence and survival in the face of overwhelming odds is the story of today’s episode. When our guest, CEO Brad Huerta, took over in 2013, he wasn’t there to save Lost Rivers, he was there to shut it down. With over three million dollars in debt, pending bankruptcy, and only seven thousand dollars of cash in the bank, the situation was beyond grim. Today this same hospital is cash positive, free of every dime of debt, running six years with a yearly profit, and getting ready to open a new surgery center. How is this possible and what happened after Brad arrived? Well, it’s one heck of a ride and one hell of a story. So buckle in and get ready. With that said, let’s get started.

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28 Days That Saved a City. Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha & the Fight for Flint.

PeerSpectrum.com- Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha

Name: Mona Hanna-Attisha, MD

Specialty: Pediatrician and public health advocate

Location: Hurley Medical Center: Flint, MI

Today it’s our distinct privilege to have Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha on the show. Before her best selling book, her countless TV interviews, before Time Magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world, “Dr. Mona” (as she is known) was just another pediatrician taking care of children in one of the poorest cities in the country.

If you’re like us, you probably think you know the Flint story pretty well. This episode may change your mind. Here’s some things we didn’t know:

  • Flint Michigan was once one of America’s most prosperous cities. Many historians say the middle class was born there.
  • The crisis began when the city switched its water source to the Flint river. This river was once so polluted it caught on fire twice.
  • The entire crisis was completely avoidable, like 80 bucks a day avoidable!
  • Lead poisoning may be one of the largest threats to American children today. It’s literally everywhere around us.
  • The first abortion pill was made of lead
  • The same thing happened that happened in Flint happened in Washington DC in 2004. Thousands of adults and children were exposed to high levels of lead contamination and we still have really no idea what the long term effects will be.
  • Choosing to be a whistleblower carries tremendous risk. We only hear of the success stories. We never hear of about the whistleblowers who lose their jobs, go bankrupt, get divorced and even commit suicide.

This is an amazing and heroic story, but also a haunting one. You really have to wonder…what would have happened to Flint if there wasn’t a Dr. Mona to stand up and fight? We really don’t know. The best we can hope for is that by sharing her story, others may find the tools and the inspiration to do the same. With that said let’s get started…

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