Cass Health Named an Iowa Rural Hospital Center of Excellence

August 4, 2023

Atlantic, IA – Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds announced this week that Cass Health was awarded a rural hospital “Center of Excellence” designation. As part of that designation, grant funding to support and improve healthcare delivery in rural Iowa will provide $250,000 in funding each year for three years, totaling $750,000.

Centers of excellence increase access to multi-disciplinary specialty care and are devoted to tackling major health needs and disparities confronting rural Iowans. Cass Health plans to use the grant to focus on fetal and maternal health services in southwest Iowa. According to the Governor’s office, the awarded funds will help regional and local health systems build and enhance systems to ensure rural Iowans have the same access to specialized care as those living in metro areas.

Over the last twenty years in Iowa, there has been a major decline in the number of hospitals that provide labor and delivery services, most often in rural areas. The Cass Health Centers of Excellence program aims to improve rural maternal health services in southwest Iowa.

“Over the last three years, Cass Health has developed collaborative partnerships with Montgomery County Hospital in Red Oak, Iowa, and CHI Corning Hospital in Corning, Iowa, to continue to provide maternal health services in Montgomery County and Adams County. Cass Health has also collaborated with Adair County Health System in Greenfield, Iowa, to initiate a maternal health outreach clinic in Adair County,” stated Cass Health Chief Executive Officer Brett Altman.

This regional partnership will provide women in these communities with maternal health services, including prenatal and postnatal care, that they would not have access to otherwise. Sustaining and growing OB outreach clinics in this rural region aim to reduce transportation and financial resource barriers. This will increase routine access to prenatal and postnatal care.

“Cass Health is fortunate to be in a position where we can grow as a regional leader in obstetrics care, notably because of the outstanding team of physicians and nurses here and because of our partnerships with healthcare organizations in our region,” said Chief Human Resources Officer Kolton Hewlett.

As counties around Cass have ceased deliveries, Cass Health has increased deliveries as women and families travel to Atlantic for healthcare services. In 2022, Cass Health delivered 144 babies from 34 unique zip codes, representing fifteen counties across three states.

“Over the next three years, Cass Health will use this grant funding to continue OB outreach services in Adair County, Adams County, and Montgomery County. We have also established an OB Navigator position which will be instrumental in expanding access to care. This role will navigate expecting parents through the health system, help coordinate care, and remove any barriers the patient may encounter by identifying critical resources,” stated Hewlett.