Category

Uncategorized

Christian Fletcher: making a profound impact on rural community healthcare

By Uncategorized

To say that Christian Fletcher, CEO of LifeBrite Hospital Group, is a man with strong convictions might be the understatement of the century.

Christian and his wife Amber started LifeBrite Hospital Group out of concern for a major epidemic facing small rural community hospitals throughout America. The increased closures of these hospitals touched the Fletchers deeply, as it leaves rural townspeople to drive 1-3 hours away to get the critical healthcare they needed.  After all, nearly 1 in 5 Americans live in rural areas and really reply upon their community hospitals for care ranging from the flu to a broken bone to more urgent medical conditions. In addition, many of these rural hospitals run skilled nursing facilities, so when they close, elderly patients are displaced, and families that care for them are left desperate for solutions.

Christian’s deep empathy with the elderly began in his early years, when he volunteered his time at a skilled nursing facility in his hometown of Mobile, Alabama. He became particularly close to an Alzheimer’s patient when they just “clicked” with each other.  “He made a huge impact on me,” remarked Christian. “This man thought I was either his son or his grandson, and he looked forward to my visits and lit up when I walked in the door.” 

The Fletchers, to date, have purchased hospitals in Blakely, Georgia (LifeBrite Community Hospital of Early) and Danbury, North Carolina (LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes). These two hospitals were acquired out of bankruptcy, and the Fletcher’s LifeBrite Hospital Group’s purchase was exactly what these two facilities needed to stay alive. With the acquisition, both hospitals were able to continue providing essential services to the community they serve and accomplish things that were beneficial to these vulnerable communities. 

Christian often walks the halls of these hospitals, checking in on things and providing morale boosts to the workers in the facility. “The work we do – it gives tremendous purpose to our lives,” says Christian. “These hospitals were on the verge of closing, and through our company LifeBrite Hospital Group, we [Christian and Amber] get to play a personal role in sustaining them.” So far, they’ve been able to provide both hospitals with new invaluable technology and recruit non-employed physicians in nearby larger cities to do surgeries in their ambulatory surgery center. They also have been able to market open beds in their skilled nursing facilities to referral sources such as other hospitals and physician practices.

Other philanthropic endeavors

Home might be Mobile, Alabama, but after a stint in Los Angeles, the Fletchers have lived in Atlanta since 2014. These two still maintain deep roots in Mobile, engaging with a local church there to build a new facility encompassing church and youth. This facility and its programs for youth are more than just spiritual outlets – they teach courses ranging from STEM to entrepreneurship. “It’s a full gamut of youth life,” says Christian. “We envision it becoming a center of influence – not just church-related things but also valuable life skills such as tutoring, job skills, resume-building, athletics, and philanthropy. This will be a place where the youth actually desire to go.”  It’s very much a “come as you are” type of program: no dress code, no money needed – a real changing force in the community. 

Back in Atlanta, Christian and Amber have been involved with organizations that are working to start up schools focused on inner-city “at-risk” youth. These schools will focus on young people who’ve grown up in bad circumstances in impoverished areas for which they had no control. Their goal is to teach young people that you CAN rise above your circumstances intellectually.  Says Christian, “I’m quite passionate about helping those without equal opportunities. Opportunities many of us had growing up aren’t afforded to everyone. I’ve always operated spiritually – from my heart, and not for accolades.” 

As if the Fletchers don’t sound busy enough to you, they are both in the process of finishing up Master’s Degrees (Christian from George Washington University, and Amber from the University of Alabama in Birmingham). And they also manage to spend a lot of quality time with their four very active children, including one brand-new baby (all under the age of eight). 

Needless to say, this humble power couple is living proof that the power of prayer, empathy, and philanthropy can make profound changes in the communities around you. 

 

virus

Learn The Facts About Coronavirus and How To Protect Yourself

By Uncategorized

Coronavirus: The Facts and What You Need To Know

Coronavirus, also known as Covid-19, has been talked about in the news, discussed on social media, and written about in Blogs in recent weeks. We’re sure that you have questions about the Coronavirus outbreak, and we want to help answer them.

  • What is Coronavirus Covid-19
  • Should I be worried about contracting Coronavirus?
  • What are the best precautions to take against Coronavirus for my family and me? 
  • What are the symptoms of Coronavirus
  • If I suspect I have Coronavirus, what should I do? 

While these are just a small sampling of the questions we have seen asked, these are ones that are most frequently asked. Today we want to give you Coronavirus facts that help answer these questions and helpful tips to keep your family healthy and safe. 

 What is Coronavirus Covid-19? 

Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that range from the common cold to a more severe respiratory disease. Covid-19 (COVI for coronavirus, “D” for “disease,” and “19” for the year it was identified) is the new Coronavirus that started the outbreak in China. 

If you were able to see the virus, what you would see is a miniature tennis ball with a bunch of spikes coming out from it, and these spikes can attach to certain places. Let’s say the spike attaches to your nostril, you might experience symptoms of a common cold. But if the spike attaches to cells inside your lungs, which is what Covid-19 wants to do, then it programs itself to reproduce and essentially overtake the healthy cells. When this happens, the patient can experience much worse symptoms. 

Should I be worried about contracting Coronavirus?

Just like with influenza, there is always the possibility of contracting an illness. But there are ways to protect yourself and your loved ones from Covid-19. The best protection is to avoid being exposed to the illness in the first place. 

Other precautions to take against Coronavirus include:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. 
  • Cover your cough and sneeze. 
  • Do not touch your face with your hands. 
  • Clean and disinfect doorknobs, faucets, and other regularly touched items. 
  • Wash your hands often with antibacterial soap but especially before eating, after using the restroom, after sneezing or coughing, and after being in a public location. 

How does Coronavirus spread? 

Coronavirus is spread by droplets such as sneezes and coughs. Try to avoid people that are sneezing or coughing and keep your hands away from your face. Some people have considered a face mask in hopes to keep the virus away. Most face masks that the public can buy have leaks that will allow droplets through. Masks should be worn if you are sick to help stop the spread of Coronavirus. 

What are the symptoms of Coronavirus?

The symptoms of Coronavirus vary from person to person. Symptoms can present as soon as two days from exposure to as long as fourteen days after exposure. 

There have been mild cases that resolve quickly, and there have been severe cases that have resulted in death.  Most people have experienced a cough, fever, and shortness of breath. Coronavirus has turned into pneumonia and severe upper respiratory illness quickly. 

I have recently traveled, what should I do? 

If you recently traveled and you feel fine, do nothing. If you have recently traveled and become sick, you should take the necessary steps to ensure that you do not spread the illness to others. 

Restrict your out of home activities to seeking medical care only. If you make an appointment to see your doctor, inform them that you may have Covid-19 so they can take the proper precautions for your arrival.  If you are home, separate yourself from other people and from your pets. Should an emergency arise and you need to call 911, make sure that you inform the dispatcher that you may have been exposed to Coronavirus.

Just like with any illness, proper precautions can limit the spread. The most important thing that you can do to help stop the spread is to wash your hands often. 

To follow new developments regarding the Coronavirus outbreak, check the CDC website where you will find updated information on this evolving situation. 

Atlanta-based LifeBrite, led by CEO Christian Fletcher, operates LifeBrite Laboratories and LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes. To learn more about Lifebrite Community Hospital of Early, visit our homepage

 

mental

What Organizations Are Doing to Improve Mental Health Care

By Uncategorized

Mental health awareness and support on a local level

Mental health in America is really a public health issue. 1 in 5 adults (46.6 million people) and up to 20% of children in the United States are dealing with some type of mental health problem.  How are healthcare organizations and communities working together to offer help, encouragement, and support to those in need? Let’s take a look.  

Raising awareness of mental health issues

In 1949, May was declared Mental Health Awareness month. The entire month is dedicated to raising awareness, support, and essential funding for mental health in America. Bringing attention to the need for ongoing support and community mental health services is critical as lack of access to care can have severe consequences, including suicide and/or jail time.  

The month of May is utilized by organizations to help raise awareness in their community of the different mental healthcare options that are available.  Many healthcare organizations offer free screenings through Mental Health Awareness month as well as organize fun events such as carnivals and 5K runs that promote Mental Health Awareness. 

PMH-APRN’s for mental healthcare

Many hospitals are recruiting PMH-APRNs to their teams in order to help alleviate the mental health in America crisis. A Psychiatric Mental Health Advanced Practice Registered Nurse is a  Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) or Nurse Practitioner (NP) with advanced education in the mental health field. They can provide the specialized care that is needed for mental health problems, including: 

  • Patient education
  • Diagnose and treat illnesses 
  • Prescribe medication 
  • Order, perform, and/or read diagnostic tests and studies
  • Administrate preventive care
  • Perform exams
  • Perform procedures 

Having a PMH-APRN on board is a step in the right direction for healthcare organizations that are committed to changing the landscape of mental healthcare in the United States.

National mental health care on a local level

NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) has thousands of trained volunteers across the United States who bring peer-led programs to a local level. These programs include a NAMI Basics class designed for parents and caregivers of youth with mental health illnesses, Family to Family for family members and significant others of those with mental health issues, and others. There are also seminars and support groups offered. 

American Mental Wellness is another organization that offers programs and education on a local level. Programs such as Mental Health First Aid, an 8-hour course that teaches how to help in a mental health crisis, are equipping people with the information and resources that they need to help those around them.

Mental health in America is a public health issue, and with the public’s help, more people may be encouraged to seek the help and support they need.

Atlanta-based LifeBrite, led by CEO Christian Fletcher, operates LifeBrite Laboratories and LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes. To learn more about Lifebrite Community Hospital of Early, visit our homepage

Close-up image of a male hand holding a stethoscope on a patient, skin.

From Bankruptcy to Growth: LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes

By Uncategorized

When Pioneer Community Hospital of Stokes filed for bankruptcy in 2016, fear rippled throughout the Danbury, N.C., community.

Another critical access facility nearby had recently filed for bankruptcy — and closed. That hospital’s grim fate weighed heavily on the employees of Pioneer Community Hospital of Stokes and the surrounding community. 

“It was a scary time,” said Pam Tillman, administrator of the hospital now known as LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes.

Pioneer canceled surgeries, endured stressful calls with vendors, and, worst of all, laid off some of the medical center’s 200 employees.

“The staff and community were concerned about our survival as a hospital,” Tillman said. 

Then LifeBrite Hospital Group acquired the hospital in 2017, taking over $1.3 million in Medicare and Medicaid payment obligations and signing new leases for medical equipment, software, and supplies.

Rural hospitals are economic engines for communities

Rural hospitals provide life-saving medical care and function as the economic heart of a community, employing dozens of residents and supporting surrounding small businesses.

But they face economic and demographic challenge. Shrinking rural populations, more uninsured elderly patients, and widespread poverty hurt efforts to grow revenue and services.

That’s why acquiring a hospital in bankruptcy can feel like swimming upstream. But the investment makes sense if you can improve efficiency, grow your patient base, and help the community, LifeBrite Hospital Group CEO Christian Fletcher said.

“We know how important it is to have quality healthcare in small rural communities. We want to do everything we can to ensure these hospitals thrive and continue to offer vital services that residents in these communities need,” said Fletcher.

Returning hospital to stability

LifeBrite made immediate improvements once it assumed ownership, said Tillman.

“LifeBrite allowed us to make payments to our vendors and contractors in a timely manner. This helped us establish relationships as a new entity and look forward to the future.”

“Establishing relationships with vendors and contractors following a bankruptcy filing and ownership change took time and a great deal of effort by our accounts payable clerk,” said Tillman. “I credit her with answering the phone and reaching out to vendors promptly to let them know we were going to take care of our debt. Her job is not easy, and she was definitely an unsung hero!”

The hospital also reopened its acute care unit and resumed inpatient treatment (which stalled during the bankruptcy). It also rehired some employees who had been laid off.

And the daily panic subsided. “We were able to resume some order with daily operations instead of wondering how we were going to make it through the next day or week,” Tillman said.

LifeBrite Hospital open for business!

The hospital focused on steadily rebuilding its patient volume for inpatient and swing bed programs along with replenishing its staff. 

“We are now working with new surgeons to perform surgery in our surgery center,” Tillman said. “Our new rural health clinic in Pine Hall is working to grow not only primary care business but also industrial medicine and worker’s comp business.”

“We keep working to get the message out that “WE ARE OPEN FOR BUSINESS,” she said.

Tillman says on more than one occasion since the bankruptcy filing, a former patient or a patient’s family visited the hospital just to share their gratitude.

“I have gotten hugs, tears of joy, and words of heartfelt thanks from patients or their families who say they are glad we are here and how important our hospital is to the community. A couple of patients have said they would not have survived to make it to another hospital if our doors had not been open,” she said.

Dark days and hope

Tillman acknowledges the ordeal impacted the staff, but it also strengthened bonds. 

“This has not been an experience anyone would want to go through,” she said. “The core group of managers and employees who banded together to press on through difficult days are some of the most amazing people. I am thankful to be part of this team! I would also like to thank LifeBrite for coming to Stokes County and saving the day in July, 2016! Without them, we would not be here to tell this story.”  

Atlanta-based LifeBrite Hospital Group, led by CEO Christian Fletcher, operates LifeBrite Community Hospital of EarlyLifeBrite Laboratories, and LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes. To learn more about LifeBrite Hospital Group, visit our homepage.

Lab technician at LifeBrite

Technology Upgrades Revive Rural Hospitals

By Uncategorized

Christian Fletcher knows all too well the challenges facing rural hospitals.

As CEO of LifeBrite Hospital Group, Fletcher led the acquisition of two at-risk hospitals in rural Georgia and North Carolina. Both were in bankruptcy and on the verge of closure and were in desperate need of infrastructure and operational improvements. These hospitals needed critical upgrades so they could provide better patient care and attract and retain better talent.

“From an operations perspective, these improvements can mean the difference between life and death,” said Fletcher. That’s why LifeBrite Hospital Group has invested more than $300,000 in the facilities since 2017.

EMRs and rural hospitals

Innovative technology like electronic medical record (EMR) systems can transform rural health care, according to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. 

That’s why Medicare and Medicaid in 2011 launched a program providing financial incentives for health professionals and systems that adopt and demonstrate meaningful use EMR technology in patient care.

Among other things, EMRs enable remote rural hospitals to get real-time test results and input from other providers. It also allows them to coordinate with remote providers for specialized services not available locally. Finally, EMRs facilitate efficient transfers of patients, which is vital for critical access hospitals (CAH) like those operated by LifeBrite Hospital Group.

“As a critical access hospital, we are a stabilization facility,” Fletcher said. “Our job is to be a stabilizer, not a long-term acute care facility. Every time a patient is transferred to or from our facilities, it has to be documented and shared. EMRs allow us to do that more efficiently and accurately.”

Both LifeBrite Community Hospital of Early and LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes have swing-bed programs, or transitional care units, for patients recovering from surgery or from an injury. Often patients are transferred to these hospitals from larger nearby hospitals so they can complete rehabilitation closer to home. Each hospital has 25 acute care beds.

In the case of what is now LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes, the former EMR system was actually better suited for a larger acute care hospital, Fletcher said. LifeBrite replaced it with a specialized  “built-from-scratch” system that better fit the health system’s needs.

Upgrading IT systems

Like most technology, EMR systems are only as effective as the information technology infrastructure.

Outdated IT infrastructure makes hospitals more vulnerable to hackers and data breaches and can hurt patient care and service. Outdated IT can even affect communication between departments since phone systems are usually part of the  infrastructure.

“When we came into both hospitals we had to look at basic infrastructure development. These were things that had been kicked down the road,” Fletcher said. “Updating the IT infrastructure was one of the first things we did.”

Improving employee morale and retention

Investments in technological improvements improve employee satisfaction and help in efforts to attract and retain staff. Fletcher said.

“When we came into Stokes, the morale definitely improved. The hospital was in the middle of bankruptcy. We had to really stabilize the situation with employees and with the facility. We also brought in other services to help build up the business,” he said.

Uncertainty around a rural hospital affects the whole community. When a hospital closes, per capita income in its community declines by 4% and the unemployment rate rises 1.6 percentage points, according to a study published in Health Services Research.

Physicians watched to see if LifeBrite could stabilize the facilities. Now, both hospitals are adding much-needed specialists to their rosters.

“Updating and improving hospital technology is key in efficiency, patient outcomes and employee morale and retention. That’s why it’s a core focus for LifeBrite,” Fletcher said.

“We want to consistently grow and improve both the quality and offering of services at our hospitals,” said Fletcher. “We invest in technology so we can improve patient care as well as improve the billing, claims and follow-up. We have to do better for these communities.”

Atlanta-based LifeBrite Hospital Group, led by CEO Christian Fletcher, operates LifeBrite Community Hospital of EarlyLifeBrite Laboratories, and LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes.To learn more about LifeBrite Hospital Group, visit our homepage.

Emergency department entrance at a rural hospital in Georgia

Keeping Rural Hospitals in the Community

By Uncategorized

Rumors about the health of rural hospitals circulate in small towns all the time. The hospital isn’t going to make it. It’s going bankrupt. It’s going to close.

The rumors may not be true in every case, but they reflect a discouraging trend: A recent study found that one-fifth of rural hospitals in the United States are at a high risk of shutting down. 

The study, released earlier this year by Navigant, a consulting firm based in Chicago, says a total of 95 rural hospitals across 26 states have closed since 2010.

Rural hospitals are at risk in Georgia and across the country

About 20 percent of rural hospitals – a total of 430 – are at high risk of closure due to their financial situations. Their closures would affect 150,000 jobs. A range of factors contributes to the growing threat to rural hospitals including:

  • Loss of manufacturing and farming jobs in the community. These losses force residents to move to more urban areas. The ones who remain in the towns are typically very old or very young, unemployed, uninsured, and Medicaid/Medicare patients.
  • The hospital’s inability to keep up with technology. Dwindling patient numbers means less capital for improvements.
  • Talent struggles. Rural hospitals struggle to attract and retain staff to remain competitive with neighboring hospitals.

Federal healthcare cuts, particularly to Medicare, also took a heavy toll on rural hospitals. The rate of rural hospital closures increased six-fold between 2010 and 2015.  

Consider this: 77 percent of rural counties in the United States are considered “primary care health professional shortage areas.” Nine percent have no physicians, according to the National Rural Healthcare Association.

Reviving rural hospitals

LifeBrite Hospital Group recognizes the role rural hospitals play in a community and seeks to help revive threatened or closed hospitals in rural areas. 

“Not only do these hospitals provide vital healthcare, they are also key economic drivers in a community,” said CEO Christian Fletcher. “We aim to restore these facilities so they can attract new patients, increase cash flow, and help support the overall health of the community.” 

LifeBrite Hospital Group currently operates rural hospitals in its home state of Georgia and in North Carolina. It focuses on implementing innovative technology, such as electronic medical records (EMR) systems, to improve patient care as well as simplify the billing and claims processes.

Adding hospital administration expertise

It also brings its expertise in all areas of administration and patient care, including:

  • Advertising and marketing services including websites, promotional material, classes and sponsorships to the companies and facilities it manages.
  • Healthcare legal resources with decades of experience in healthcare permits and certification processes.
  • Information systems to improve patient records and billing and claims processes.
  • Access to capital needed to reopen, staff and grow previously closed hospitals.

Above all, LifeBrite brings a commitment to protecting and preserving rural hospitals and serving the members of those communities.

Pamela Tillman, administrator for LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes, in Danbury, N.C., says she fights the rumor mill  by visiting with community groups and government officials and staying in touch with the patients so she can tell them about the services the hospital offers. 

“There has been a rumor going around since I started that the hospital is going to close. We have never closed and have no intention of closing,” she said. 

Atlanta-based LifeBrite Hospital Group, led by CEO Christian Fletcher, operates LifeBrite Community Hospital of EarlyLifeBrite Laboratories, and LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes. To learn more about LifeBrite Hospital Group, visit our homepage.

 

Rural hospital in Georgia

LifeBrite Hospital Group: Keeping Healthcare Local

By Uncategorized

Rural hospitals play a critical role for people living in rural communities. Not only do they provide much-needed healthcare services, but they also act as economic engines, creating jobs and supporting businesses.

Unfortunately, these rural hospitals remain at high risk of closing. According to a recent study by Navigant Consulting, 21 percent or 430 hospitals across 43 states are at high risk of closing unless their financial situations improve. A total of 95 rural hospitals across 26 states have closed since 2010, according to Navigant’s report.   

When a community loses its hospital, the economic impacts are typically significant. A study published in Health Services Research found that when a rural hospital closes, per capita income falls 4 percent and the unemployment rate rises 1.6 percent.

LifeBrite Hospital Group is working to reduce those losses by acquiring previously closed or threatened facilities and then focusing on increasing cash flow and improving compliance and positive outcomes for patients.

LifeBrite Hospital Group, which currently operates rural hospitals in its home state of Georgia and in North Carolina, focuses on growing the business by adding more services and improving overall quality, said CEO Christian Fletcher. LifeBrite also implements innovative technology, such as electronic medical records (EMR) systems, which improve patient care as well as simplify the billing and claims processes.

LifeBrite Hospital Group focuses on the acquisition and rehabilitation of critical access hospitals. Critical access hospitals play a vital role in maintaining access to high-quality service health care services in rural communities. According to the American Hospital Association, critical access hospitals like LifeBrite provide care to millions of Americans living in vulnerable rural and urban communities.

In order to gain CAH designation a hospital must:

  • Be 35 miles from another hospital.
  • Have a 24-hour emergency room that operates seven days a week.
  • Have a maximum of 25 inpatient beds for acute care or swing-bed services.
  • Maintain an annual average length of stay of 96 hours or less for acute care patients.

Often these small hospitals also house or are tied to other community healthcare services such as institutional pharmacies; rural health clinics with visiting specialists and urgent care facilities; skilled nursing homes; and retirement apartments. LifeBrite is adept at managing all facets of rural healthcare, from clinics to administrative services, to acute care hospitals and long-term skilled care facilities.

When LifeBrite acquires a hospital, it brings its expertise in all areas of administration and patient care, including:

  • Advertising and marketing services including websites, promotional material, classes and sponsorships to the companies and facilities it manages.
  • Healthcare legal resources with decades of experience in healthcare permits and certification processes.
  • Information systems to improve patient records and billing and claims processes.
  • Access to capital needed to reopen, staff and grow previously closed hospitals.

Above all, LifeBrite brings a commitment to protecting and preserving rural hospitals and serving the members of those communities.

“We know how important it is to have quality healthcare in small rural communities. We want to do everything we can to ensure these hospitals thrive and continue to offer vital services that the residents in these communities need,” said Fletcher.

Atlanta-based LifeBrite Hospital Group, led by CEO Christian Fletcher, operates LifeBrite Community Hospital of EarlyLifeBrite Laboratories, and LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes. To learn more about LifeBrite Hospital Group, visit our homepage.