The little hospital that can

Bucktail Medical Center in South Renovo surely can be called the little hospital that can.

BMC, serving rural Western Clinton County and surrounding mountain communities, emerged from bankruptcy in late March following several years of paying off debt.

Looks like CEO Tim Reeves used a scalpel — not an axe — to methodically reduce thousands of dollars in expenses by settling payments with vendors, keeping up payroll, continuing to provide critical medical services as has been feasible, and, well … literally keeping the lights on.

Reeves and his team — the entire BMC team — did not add to the hospital’s debt load during the process by borrowing more money.

Just about three short years ago, if you remember, Bucktail Medical Center was on the verge of closing. Lost would have been the critical medical services that can determine life or death in rural, hard-to-get-to regions such as Western Clinton County.

That’s why Bucktail is called a “Critical Access Hospital.”

BMC has an emergency room open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It operates a laboratory, radiology, ambulance, occupational, physical and speech therapy. BMC’s 43-bed skilled nursing facility is a God-send for Western Clinton County.

The operating budget was around $6 million annually, with nearly 80 percent of that revenue coming via Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements. BMC, remember, even withstood a freeze in reimbursements amid budget squabbles.

No one dare take this wonderful feat of management for granted. No one dare give all the credit to one person, either. Tim will tell you it’s been a team effort … and that effort extends well beyond employees to community members who step up to help raise funds for this nonprofit hospital.

Its community clinic provides quality outpatient care via a family practice physician, outpatient laboratory and radiology services.

Yet, this story is not over. Reeves is cautious.

“There is not a pot of gold at the end of Chapter 11,” he told The Express in a front-page story this past Saturday. “Emerging from Chapter 11 does not alleviate the financial challenges the medical center faces; rather, it provides an opportunity for us to demonstrate that the medical facility can be self-sufficient and viable in spite of these challenges.”

All of Clinton County is grateful to the BMC staff, and we’re certainly hoping for continued success as Greater Renovo marches on toward new development with a massive gas-fired electric plant and the revitalization it should bring.