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RANDOLPH COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — Two weeks into its new merger with American Healthcare Systems, Randolph Health has reported an increase in its patient census and signs of a positive step toward the future.

Randolph Health has had more than a year of ups and downs.  

In 2020, the hospital filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy after it reported a nearly $21 million debt accumulated since a massive financial hit by the 2008 recession.

In 2019, the hospital was in talks to merge and build a new facility with Moses Cone, however, the merger fell through due to the COVID pandemic.  

There were also talks to join with Java Medical Group. 

In March of 2020, after a positive sign of hope with AHS, the hospital was able to file for bankruptcy and be sold to AHS for more than $10 million.  The debt, however, is still being handled separately from AHS.  

“The community is seeing the cloud lifted,” new Randolph Health CEO Tim Ford said. “They feel more confident and comfortable using our services.”  

Ford has worked with Randolph Health for the past four months but has worked with rural hospitals for the past few decades.  

When asked about the future of the hospital and services for families in Randolph County, he said the first major step is staffing with a specific focus on special care physicians.  

“The need to expand our staff and equipment in the gastroenterology. We have one to three patients a day that we are having to send out because we don’t have the GI physicians…we’re looking to add another urologist. We currently have one. And either a nurse practitioner or assistant physician. I think we need at least two…we’re looking at what we can do to increase our cardiology people,” Ford said.

When it comes to gastroenterology, the department could be filled by mid-August. As for the other services, a timeline is unknown.  

The hospital has planned to rely more on seniors who have graduated college.

“What we’re trying to do is create a collegial environment, a good experience. Obviously, money is an issue, but we want people to have a good environment to work through,” Ford said. “We want to lean more into work with new graduates in college and universities. Make it a more intimate environment where it may not be as hectic, fast-paced, complex–an organization for those starting out in their career.” 

Also on the horizon for the county care is an expansion of in and out patient psychiatric care.  

In 2016, a survey found 47% of people living in the county were concerned with mental health.

In 2019, that number jumped to 54%, with 24% having said they went to the doctor to get some sort of mental health treatment but couldn’t find it.

“We think it’s…needed in the state and in this region. We are holding many in-patient psychiatric patients until we can find placement, and they are having to go outside this community,” Ford said. “There is a concept that could provide a kind of day-of concept of psychiatric treatment for patients. Where they get therapy on-site eight hours and then go home.”