The news that Richards Memorial Hospital appears to again(!) have survived critical financial woes which threatened it with closing, is good news for Rockdale on so many levels.
Obviously, Rockdale needs its hospital. Anyone who has ever awoken with abdominal pain at 3 a.m. and said a silent, or spoken, prayer of thanks that there’s first-rate medical care a few blocks away, knows how important RMH is to the life of this community.
But Rockdale also needs its hospital, and its associated clinics and health care specialists, for crucial economic reasons.
Presently there are about 200 persons employed in health care in Rockdale. That’s not 1,200-job Alcoa, but its not nothing either.
And there are good prospects that health care, as an industry, is going to play a larger economic role in upcoming years and decades.
Long-range plans are to combine the current three local clinics operated by Little River Health Care into one “super clinic.”
There’s already a good nucleus of health care services here and as more specialists and ancillary services come to town and become established, the potential exists for Rockdale to become a regional health center.
In fact, health care was one of the specific growth potential areas mentioned by the year-long Talent, Innovation & Place (TIP) Strategies report this summer.
It noted as baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) age, a dramatic expansion in health care services is almost a certainty.
And Rockdale appears poised to take advantage of that opportunity.—M.B.