BEDFORD - UPMC Bedford Memorial officials know their role and believe they fill it well.
"We are a small, rural community hospital. We provide basic bread-and-butter medicine and we think we do it well and are committed to doing it well," said Roger Winn, hospital president since 2000. "Our mission is to serve our patients and their families as if they are guests by always delivering care in a safe, compassionate, respectful and responsible manner."
Formerly known as Memorial Hospital of Bedford County, UPMC Bedford Memorial celebrated 60 years of service to the community this month.
Groundwork was laid for the hospital beginning in 1949 when leaders of Timmons Hospital in Bedford and Sipes Hospital in Everett decided to merge. The new Memorial Hospital of Bedford County opened in August 1951.
The hospital is located off Route 30 in Snake Spring Township.
"We are on a parcel that is exactly four miles from the center of Bedford and the center of Everett," Winn said. "We have a Bedford telephone number and an Everett mailing address."
The 120,000-square-foot facility has 49 beds and a daily average census of 25 patients, Winn said.
He said they have about 2,100 inpatient admissions, 15,000 emergency room visits and 5,000 surgeries a year. Most of the surgeries are outpatient.
"The outpatient business has been growing steadily. Seventy to 72 percent of our business today is outpatient; that is the way medicine is going," he added.
UPMC Bedford Memorial provides primary care. Winn said that means they handle such things as pneumonia, heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and hernias.
He said they refer patients needing other care to Altoona Regional Health System, Memorial Medical Center in Johnstown and UPMC Pittsburgh.
With about 370 employees and another 75 in its community medicine practices, UPMC Bedford Memorial is one of the largest employers in Bedford County and plays a key role in the county's economy.
According to the Hospital Association of Pennsylvania, the local hospital contributes $59.3 million to the community on an annual basis.
The Memorial Hospital of Bedford County Foundation has been providing scholarships to Bedford County students for years.
Hospital employees serve on numerous community boards, and Winn said the hospital offers low-cost blood screenings and sponsors many Bedford County Chamber of Commerce events.
"At our annual health fair we have doctors, nurses and clinicians who donate their time," said John Blackburn III, chairman of the board of directors.
"The public gets free or reduced tests and interaction with doctors. For some, that is the only health care they get in a year," Blackburn said.
The hospital operated as Memorial Hospital of Bedford County until it became part of the UPMC system in February 1998.
"We felt [UPMC] was the largest system which offered us the most. It was a 10-year agreement. The first five years, the local board retained control. After five years, the board had to decide whether to continue, and we did," Winn said. "We became a wholly-owned subsidiary of UPMC in February 2003."
With the affiliation, the hospital gained financial and clinical resources. Blackburn said the electronic record system and telemedicine are two of the things now offered, thanks to UPMC. He noted that local physicians also can consult with people in Pittsburgh on methods of care.
He said the hospital has a low employee turnover rate.
"We have people who retire after 30 to 40 years here. There are grandchildren whose grandparents have worked at the hospital," Backburn said. "They are the backbone and life blood of us serving our community."
Winn and Blackburn both acknowledged that the hospital faces challenges. One is physician recruiting and another is controlling costs without compromising level of care.
"We have a great group of physicians and the support of the community," Winn said. "We will continue to do well."
Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.