City and county officials, along with local health practitioners and residents gathered last week at Ouachita County Medical Center for the Delta Regional Health Authority's Community Connect Event to discuss health issues and solutions in Ouachita County.
Hospital President and CEO Peggy Abbot said, "Today was to build collaboration within the community, to kind of share information about services that are available, to identify the strengths and weaknesses of our community and how we could build on making Camden an even better community."
OCMC Community Relations Coordinator Hannah O'Dell said hospital staff hoped to learn what problems the community sees with healthcare in Ouachita County.
"We invited multiple members of our community, different people from the school districts, civic groups as well as politicians and community leaders. We were all able to discuss the problems that we see in this community, what we really need in Camden, what the growth has been like the past three to five years and how to overcome the needs that we need. So this is also a multi-step program and we'll have multiple meetings throughout the next few years," O'Dell said.
Attendees were split into three groups, where they identified major flaws, as well as assets, of the community.
County Judge Robert McAdoo stated, "Our community has improved and that's great, but we also got some other areas we need to improve. I'm telling you, I'm so proud of our hospital and their services."
McAdoo noted the cardio care center and orthopedic care as two positives in the health care realm, but noted that the use of opioids within the county is still very high.
Other groups noted a doctor shortage as a problem area.
Joe Michael Givens, compliance officer at OCMC, talked about a grant the hospital receives from the Delta Regional Authority.
"We call it the Delta Grant. It does come from the U.S. government," he said. "We do receive $750,000 in technical assistance over a three-year period, so roughly $250,000 a year, for three years. Things that we have focused on thus far are finance and operational ... We also have looked at quality."
"We're looking into telehealth and now we're working with the group called Forbus and we're looking at just day-to-day accounting and operations. But again, it's not direct financial funding, but it's technical assistance in the value of $750,000 over three years," he said.