Phelps County Regional Medical Center is setting the standard for rural healthcare, serving the population of south central Missouri with care and quality.
What began in 1949 as a local effort to bring essential medical services to a Missouri community is now a role model for delivering world-class healthcare in rural America.
Situated midway between St. Louis and Springfield, MO, the town of Rolla epitomizes the American Midwest. Close-knit and bucolic, with roots in agriculture and mining, Rolla has triumphed over a struggle familiar to many rural areas: limited access to quality healthcare.
According to Phelps County Regional Medical Center (PCRMC) SVP and COO Jason Shenefield, one of the biggest challenges to delivering healthcare in a rural setting is providing "the essential care needed for a given population and doing it in a way that meets the level of service, quality, and outcomes that people expect from a large metropolitan center.”
Offsetting that challenge, however, is the sense of community engendered in heartland communities.
“More importantly, in rural environments, you can even outperform metro facilities when it comes to service because of the family environment that’s created when you work in a rural community,” Shenefield added.
Service, Support, and Care
Phelps County Regional Medical Center’s 66-year journey of care illustrates how strong community support, forward thinking, and dedication to care can transform healthcare provision in areas far removed from major cities.
Built on land donated by the Rolla Lions Club, Phelps Regional Memorial Hospital, as it was then known, opened its doors in 1951. Today, Phelps County Regional Medical Center is a robust regional care provider, serving patients in a six-county catchment area.
Developing a regional facility in a rural location requires identifying those services that are limited or non-existent and cultivating close relationships with other area healthcare professionals to broaden the provision of services.
“We fit a unique market in south central Missouri,” Shenefield pointed out. “We’ve become a major referral center for patients living in very rural communities by focusing on primary care services, creating good access to care, and establishing rural health clinics.”
Phelps County Regional Medical Center offers a range of services within 16 medical departments, including oncology, cardiology and vascular, maternity, rehabilitation, orthopedics, intensive care, and surgery.
Delbert Day Cancer Institute
In January of this year, Phelps County Regional Medical Center opened the Delbert Day Cancer Institute (DDCI), a multidisciplinary cancer care facility that provides a full continuum of care in one central, accessible location. Merging discrete services into a full-service center eliminates the substantial burden many rural patients face when trying to coordinate and access timely cancer diagnosis, care, and support.
“Cancer services are often fragmented in rural areas. Radiation oncology could be in one area, medical oncology infusion may be in another, PET-CT may be in a separate location,” Shenefield said. “We looked at what would make our cancer services the most welcoming and patient-focused as possible. What was most inviting was bringing all cancer services together into one facility.”
Treating care along a continuum elevates the level of treatment not just for cancer patients, but for every patient. To offer seamless care, Phelps County Regional Medical Center coordinates the patient process, using its clinical and nursing staff to guide patients through every step of their care, including education and support services.
The DDCI also brings a valuable component of cancer research to Rolla: the ability to access clinical trials through the National Cancer Institute’s National Community Oncology Research Program.
The Institute’s namesake, Delbert Day, is a world-renowned materials engineer, ceramist, and medical device developer with over 50 patents to his credit. He is the co-inventor of TheraSphere glass microspheres for radiation therapy, which are used to treat patients around the globe who have inoperable liver cancer.
The Essentials of Exceptional Rural Healthcare
Throughout its history, Phelps County Regional Medical Center has upheld a strong tradition of running a fiscally responsible organization. This careful approach enables investments in facility, technology, and program design, and has enabled the center to attract highly qualified clinicians.
“There are many clinicians who go through medical school, residencies, and fellowships that come from smaller parts of the country, or a more rural setting similar to ours. We’ve had some success in bringing physicians back who grew up in the community, as well as those who may not want to go back to their hometown but want a similar culture,” Shenefield declared.
A relentless dedication to delivering the best possible medical outcomes and patient experiences has positioned Phelps County Regional Medical Center as a leader in Midwestern regional healthcare services.
“By taking healthcare’s most complicated piece, which is offering services across a continuum, and streamlining that process as much as possible, hospitals can eliminate waste and provide better overall service,” he continued. “In rural America, you really can provide exceptional care.”
Phelps County Regional Medical Center is a world-class healthcare facility licensed for 242 patient beds and is proud to be the area’s largest employer with over 1,700 employees. PCRMC is also one of Missouri’s leading regional referral centers, serving over 200,000 residents in South Central Missouri. PCRMC is a non-tax supported, county-owned hospital with a local five-member elected board.
Phelps County Regional Medical Center HQ
1000 West 10th Street
Rolla, MO 65401