By Tia Lynn Lecorchick staff writer

Ralph Castillo, CEO of Morgan Memorial Hospital (MMH), is set to serve a three-year term on the Georgia Hospital Association Center for Rural Health board, a statewide board representing 68 rural hospitals across Georgia. Castillo will begin his tenor in this month. “I’m very excited for this opportunity,” said Castillo. “The board provides advocacy, education and patient quality and safety initiatives for Georgia rural hospitals.

To have someone from MMH on that board will be very beneficial for our hospital.” “I hope to bring a different perspective to the board; the perspective of Morgan County, a growing county, and the challenges we have,” said Castillo. Castillo explained that small rural hospitals experience a host of issues that are “markedly different” from issues experienced by larger metropolitan hospitals and serving on a board specifically tasked to address rural issues will be a valuable resource for MMH.

“In small rural hospitals, it’s harder to attract and retain specialists because we typically do not have the volume to keep specialists busy,” explained Castillo. “That is not something that bigger metropolitan hospitals usually deal with.” The lack of specialists at rural hospitals results with hospitals, like MMH, partnering, coordinating, and negotiating with larger tertiary-care hospitals to ensure patients have access to all the kinds of medical treatment they need.

Tertiary-care hospitals are trauma-hospitals that are better equipped to hand critical-care. Castillo hopes to learn how other hospitals face problems unique to rural hospitals. “We all have about the same issues…and we have all done creative things to resolve some of these issues.

A lot of times, we can build upon the successes we have seen in individual hospitals. We can take the framework that other hospitals built, apply our own circumstances and hopefully, mimic similar success.”