Rural Healthcare Systems Bring More Than Good Health to the Communities They Serve

Lake Region Healthcare Fergus Falls MN
Photo Credit: Brandon Stengel —

While there’s a lot to love about the Fergus Falls region, one thing that sets it apart from other rural communities is its healthcare system. Fergus Falls is home to Lake Region Healthcare, a private healthcare system that operates as a community-governed nonprofit organization. An independent healthcare system with such a breadth of services is incredibly rare in a city the size of Fergus Falls.

“Lake Region Healthcare is one of only a handful of rural healthcare systems our size who are still independent,” explains Kent Mattson, CEO of Lake Region Healthcare. “[We] don’t exist to return earnings to a shareholder, family, or any person or persons, and we are not part of a taxpayer supported government … we are truly a self-sustaining charitable organization of and for the communities we serve.”

The independent structure allows the organization to prioritize community needs over profits. Mattson also says the structure plays a role in Lake Region Healthcare’s ability to offer the range of specialty care services it does. From a dedicated Cancer Care and Research Center to sports medicine, citizens can find the medical help they need right in their community.

Why is Community Healthcare Important in Rural Communities?

A major benefit of rural healthcare is that citizens have greater access to preventative health care services. This is crucial for patients who may not have the means or ability to travel to larger cities for medical care. In that same vein, a regional hospital and trauma center not only provides faster emergency response times but improves patient outcomes in emergency situations.

Other benefits of community healthcare include:

  • Lower medical costs

  • Higher citizen engagement in care decisions

  • Enhanced public health initiatives and public outreach programs

  • Personalized connections with healthcare providers

Healthcare systems aren’t just important to improving the health and well-being of those who live, work, and play in the community. They also play a crucial role in the community’s economic vitality.

Nurse taking blood pressure at Lake Region Healthcare
Photo Credit: Brandon Stengel —

How Do Rural Healthcare Systems Contribute to the Local Economy?

In rural communities like Fergus Falls, healthcare and the economy are often two halves of the same coin. Rural healthcare systems contribute money to the local economy through income and property taxes, as well as dollars spent on infrastructure and community services. The stronger the healthcare system, the stronger the economy and vice versa.