Expanding RMH keeping up with the times

Specialists returning in droves after disastrous Blackhawk era

CEO Peggy Borgfeld in emergency room, now staffed at all times with on-site health care providers. 
Reporter/Mike Brown CEO Peggy Borgfeld in emergency room, now staffed at all times with on-site health care providers. Reporter/Mike Brown Richards Memorial Hospital, which is rapidly approaching its 40th anniversary, has survived more than its share of challenges but the future is again looking good, according to its new administrator.

Peggy Borgfeld became the hospital’s chief executive officer (CEO) last month.

Jeff Madison, former hospital CEO, is now CEO for the entire Little River Healthcare System.

Borgfeld said there are changes going on at RMH as the hospital completes its recovery from the disastrous “Blackhawk Era” which almost saw the facility close in 2010.

“We have the specialists back who were cut by Blackhawk,” Borgfeld said. “In fact, we’ve got many of the specialists now for more days than we’ve ever had.”

More than 40 specialists are offered at two Rockdale clinics.

CHANGES— Current upgrades at RMH are reflecting that growth. A site southwest of the hospital is being cleared for a modular unit which will house administrative offices.

That will free up the current administrative wing to house an expanded orthopedics department and physical therapy.

There are also 30 parking spaces being added, freeing up space in a usually packed lot that frequently sees overflow parking along Brazos and Pecos streets.

The busy cardiology department is also moving to the main RMH building and it’s expanding to four days a week, with three cardiologists now visiting Rockdale.

Borgfeld noted the hospital’s cath lab is back, one of the main cuts in the Blackhawk era.

A rheumatologist is being added to the list of specialists and more services are planned in the areas of ophthalmology and online services.

ER STAFFING—Perceptions continue to be an area where some work is needed.

“I continue to be surprised that some people think we have a ‘teledoc’ in our emergency room,” Borgfeld said. “That’s not the case, 75 percent of the time there is a doctor on-site and 25 percent of the time there’s a nurse-practitioner, also on-site.”

ALCOA—There continues to be challenges for the hospital, reflecting what’s been occurring in the community as a whole.

Borgfeld said the closing of Alcoa’s Rockdale Operations, and the loss of Alcoa insurance for many residents, has impacted RMH’s insurance payer mix.

“Since Alcoa closed, with so many having Alcoa insurance, our Medicare-Medicaid percentage has gone from 45 percent to 65 percent,” Borgfeld said.

RMH has coped with the change by focusing on becoming a regional hospital, a place that draws patients from a wider area.

“We’re a health care facility where you can come see the same specialists you’d see in Austin, without having to go to Austin,” Borgfeld said.

AGING—As RMH prepares to observe its 40th anniversary—the facility opened in 1974—there are some facility challenges to be addressed.

“The building looks great from outside, but some things on the inside are showing age,” she said. “We’re presently replacing 10 percent of the air conditioning units.

“With electronic medical records now in place, up-to-date technology is becoming a necessity.

“We’re going to get a new fiber line to greatly improve our Internet service,” Borgfeld said.

INVESTED—RMH is currently negotiating with the Rockdale ISD to place a clinic inside a school campus.

“We want to be invested in the community,” Borgfeld said. “We’d also like to see some adult education program for medical training in Rockdale.”

“Health care is a major employer here and we’d like some of these good-paying health care jobs to be filled by local people instead of us having to recruit out of town,” she said.

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