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.