Nebraska hospital finds 'lifeline' in new CMS model

Friend, Neb.-based Warren Memorial Hospital on Feb. 8 became the first hospital in the state to convert to a rural emergency hospital, according to

The city-owned hospital was "hours from having to close" when it did not have the funds to cover its payroll in July, Jared Chaffin, CFO and one of the hospital's three interim co-CEOs, told the publication. 


Two cash infusions from the city, totaling $250,000, covered the hospital's next two payrolls. The hospital foundation provided $75,000 and a special hospital tax district provided more than $40,000 as a temporary solution to keep the facility open and maintain access to care in the area. 

The REH designation means that Warren Memorial has given up its inpatient beds and now focuses solely on outpatient and emergency department services. In exchange, CMS will provide the facility with a 5% increase in Medicare payments as well as an average facility fee payment of about $3.2 million a year. 

"It's a lifeline we've been looking for," Mr. Chaffin told "It's not the answer to all of a sudden [becoming] profitable, because there are still things we need to do as a hospital to make sure we stay open, but it's a lifeline."

Warren Memorial is the 20th hospital to successfully transition to the REH model, according to data compiled by the University of North Carolina's Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research. 

More rural hospitals, including Clifton-Fine Hospital in Salt Lake, N.Y., are pursuing the designation this year as a way to shore up their finances and continuing providing vital healthcare services in their communities.

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