O'Brien County's Bell-Times-Courier -

Grassley Visits Primghar


September 3, 2020

Senator Chuck Grassley speaks to the crowd in Primghar on Wednesday August 26.

Iowa senior Senator Charles Grassley made a planned stop at MercyOne hospital at Primghar in Wednesday August 26. It was part of his 99 county tour. Following a tour of the clinic, hospital and wound care center Grassley took a few minutes to listen to concerns of those gathered and offer answers where they may exist.

Grassley noted that he likes to visit different institutions in counties across Iowa, explaining his reasoning for visiting the small rural hospital.

Congress will be in session Labor Day through the first week of October. Congress will be out of session until after the election. He then took questions.

Much of the crowd was hospital staff and board members. Transportation of patients needing advanced life support (ALS) present difficulties for rural hospitals. There are too few certified personnel or ambulances in O'Brien County. Sometimes its not possible to get a flight crew in a timely manner either. The question specifically addressed REACH, Rural Emergency Acute Care Hospital Act, a program Grassley has been working on for 3 years. Grassley described the voluntary program for rural hospitals to swap their beds while keeping emergency rooms and keep their other services. They would not lose critical access status under this program. He explained that details are still being worked out with a bipartisan group of legislators.

He also acknowledged problems with the roll out of COVID-19 relief legislation as it applies to both the healthcare community and to the private sector. He noted that the response was developed from Thursday to Sunday. In that time frame they were responding to the virus, the shutdown and trying to give hope. They (Congress) are "still learning."

MercyOne in Primghar received funds from the $50 -60 billion made available to all rural hospitals, $3.5 million. One board member present expressed concern that there is no guidance on how the money can be used, fearing a later ruling to pay it back if it is used incorrectly. He said they are looking for allowable expenses.

Grassley was surprised to hear that there are many people in northwest Iowa who don't take COVID seriously. He does believe there was more that could have been done in the early days of learning of its arrival. He expressed blame to China and World Health Organization in communicating the severity of the disease.


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