Source: KTTC

By Devin Barlotta

CRESCO, Iowa (KTTC) -- U.S. Senator Joni Ernst visited northern Iowa Friday as part of her 99-county tour. She stopped by the newly renovated Regional Health Services of Howard County for a personal tour, while exchanging ideas and feedback on what rural hospitals need to survive, thrive, and better serve their patients.

"Regional health services puts more than $9 million into the Howard County economy, and without the facility, there would be a big hole in this community,” said Regional Health Services of Howard County Chief Executive Officer Robin Schluter.

About two years ago, RHSHC began a facelift that transformed the way it cares for thousands of Northeast Iowa patients.

"Healthcare has become so much more technology-based that the old facilities just won't accommodate that technology,” said Schluter.

Weaving her way around the facility, Senator Ernst asked for suggestions on how rural communities can benefit from legislation in Washington.

"Knowing what programs are working so we can continue to push those at a federal level, and if there are programs that don't work or are outdated, we need to know that, too,” said Senator Joni Ernst, of her mission in Washington.

One of the most important, according to CEO Robin Schluter, is the use of technology to bring improved medical services to Howard County.

"Telemedicine support is very critical to our community, it gives greater access to specially services at home,” said Schluter.

It's a practice that, miles from bigger facilities, could help outside experts weigh in as Howard County continues to grow and update its services.

"Howard County is a very, very small community, small county, and to have this, it's incredible because people will continue to live in these communities knowing that they have this type of care here,” Senator Ernst said.

Friday afternoon Ernst also led a town hall discussion at the Mitchell County Farm Bureau in Osage.


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