Although the health care regulatory environment continues to change, Roane General Hospital has been a constant in its dedication to the local community for more than four decades.
Roane County had been previously served by two small, privately owned facilities, but the residents united in recognizing the need for modern health care. Putting their money where the need was, the community raised more than $600,000 to help finance construction of the hospital in 1970.
The citizenry and civic groups became involved in fundraising, according to Doug Bentz, who has been in the hospital's administration at Spencer for 15 years.
"Thousands of individuals contributed dollars," he said. "They had lemonade stands and bingo … it was a total community effort."
Roane General plays a major role in the local economy. The hospital has 25 acute care and 35 long-term care beds. The 255 employees have an annual payroll of $11 million. The medical staff consists of 20 full-time and another 10-15 who work on a consulting basis.
An emphasis is placed on recruiting in-state, according to Bentz.
"Most of our doctors are either West Virginia born or West Virginia trained," he said. "I would say 95 percent of them have West Virginia ties."
With larger medical facilities situated 40 miles away in Parkersburg or Charleston, the hospital serves as a safety net for Roane, a county with a population of 15,000.
"We're in charge of the health and wellness of the community," Bentz said.
The hospital opened an urgent care facility two years ago and serves the county through four clinics. Roane General Medical Clinic and Roane General Medical Associates are based on the main campus in Spencer. The Southern Roane Medical Clinic is located in Left Hand and the Walton Medical Clinic is the newest addition.
Hospital facilities include a fitness center and a walking track.
"We're more than just a health care provider. We're also the organization that takes the lead in the health and wellness of the community," he said.
Services such as chemotherapy and dialysis are being pursued.
"We'll continue to look at community-based services that we can do safely, effectively and efficiently," Bentz said. "We want to eliminate our patients from having to travel great distances and spend a lot of time away from home.
"We look at ourselves as being very proactive," he added. "We pride ourselves at trying to be the benchmark for rural health care in West Virginia. That's our vision."