Dana Weston, president and CEO of Morehead Memorial Hospital in Eden

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EDEN, N.C. -- Health care is a tough business. Costs are high. And sometimes you don’t get reimbursed for what you spend.

That’s why many small, rural hospitals across the country have closed. But one of these hospitals in the Piedmont is not only surviving, it’s thriving. And it’s due -- in part -- to Dana Weston. She’s the president and CEO of Morehead Memorial Hospital in Eden.

“Eden, like small towns across America, has had its share of difficult times and the hospital is such an important part of this community,” Weston told me recently.

It’s that consistency and intimacy that attracted her to Morehead in the first place.

“When you come to Morehead, you’re not a number. You’re a person every single time you walk in that door,” she said.

Weston came to Morehead after spending more than seven years doing strategic planning for Novant Health, which handles all of Morehead’s management operations.

“So what that means is that we have access to the corporate resources, to some of the purchasing contracts to the quality that is within Novant Health, but they haven’t purchased us, we are still independent,” she said.

But that doesn’t mean Morehead has been exempt from challenges. When Weston arrived, it had survived years of financial turmoil and leadership turnover. Getting reimbursed fairly for the services it provides in this and other rooms has been a challenge.

She says while the Affordable Care Act has been helpful in terms of giving more people access to health insurance, “the challenge was especially in our community as people did sign up for the health care exchanges, they had very high deductibles. And when you have deductibles that high it, for some people, was really the same as them being uninsured.”

She added, “for those who are either unemployed or underemployed that don’t have health insurance coverage through their employer, it’s really a struggle in today’s environment to have health care coverage that’s sufficient and that’s affordable.”

But Weston and her team still have to focus on finding ways to financially support services the hospital’s customer’s demand. Services like OB/GYN. This is the only hospital in Rockingham County that delivers babies.

“I would like to be here to see this hospital grow, to see the hospital thrive, to see our team get back to the way I used to hear the community talk about the hospital,” she said. “And so we want to make sure that for every person who walks through the door, we’re providing that trusted care and they’re getting it close to home.”

For more information on Morehead Memorial Hospital, click here.

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