SHELBY — Founded in the aftermath of the deadly 1918 flu pandemic when the city's need for a hospital became evident, OhioHealth Shelby Hospital is marking the 100th anniversary of its opening with an appreciation of its past and an eye toward its future in the community.
 
“Any time you have a business, a health care organization that’s in place in a community for 100 years, you should have amazing goodwill in terms of the number of people from that community that you’ve serviced,” said Vinson Yates, president OhioHealth Shelby and OhioHealth Mansfield Hospital.
 
“Being in that industry for 100 years and servicing the community and the broad communities in and around Shelby, northern Richland County, Richland County and other counties surrounding is pretty amazing,” he said.
 
Being a critical access facility “allows us the ability in the community like Shelby and northern Richland County to be very sustainable,” Yates said.
 
Shelby Hospital opened on April 20, 1921.
 
“We would like nothing more than to be there for another 100 years,” Yates said. “That’s got to come with good conversations in the community, great providers, great caregivers. And then when people come into Shelby Hospital, they know they are going to be treated. They know they’re going to be treated like their neighbor next door. And that is one of the beauties of Shelby Hospital as a critical access facility in these communities.”
 
Yates spoke about the significance of 100 years.
 
“It’s an opportunity to restate what it is that Shelby Hospital does in this area and sort of put a stamp on it," he said.
 
Though he said that now is a tough time — due to the coronavirus pandemic —Yates is hopeful that Shelby Hospital probably will celebrate the milestone for the full year.
 
“The fact that we’re still not getting together in large crowds as of April, mid-April of 2021, I believe we’ll have that opportunity yet in the coming year," he said. "So we’ll celebrate in many different ways. But, certainly, I think we need to put a stamp on the moment in time when it is 100 years.”
 
Yates was asked to speak about the importance of Shelby Hospital during the coronavirus pandemic era.
 
“As you know in March of 2020, most health care organizations tried to slow down, eliminate elective procedures for a long period of time,” he recalled of the early days of coronavirus crisis. “That certainly hurt Shelby, but Shelby (Hospital) stayed open first off the entire period of time, servicing the needs of many.”
 
Another wave of the COVID-19 pandemic arrived later in the year.
 
“Then we when got into a period — the late November, December time period of 2020 and our COVID numbers were going through the roof -- Shelby Hospital became one of those sites where we had inpatient COVID patients," Yates said. "We had been seeing COVID patients coming into the ED (emergency department) in a myriad of ways at Shelby throughout the period of time. But we actually set up a COVID unit within the walls of Shelby (Hospital) during that time.”
 
At OhioHealth Shelby Hospital, the COVID unit was deactivated in January 2021.
 
"Between Shelby and Mansfield, we were close to 90 (COVID) inpatients for a period of time in our inpatient facilities," Yates recalled. "Now we are at a much more lower level, and as a result of that, we are able to care for them in specific units within Mansfield Hospital, and there is not a need to split that between both facilities, which is really the right way to go about doing this."
 
He also said “as you looked at the second and third floors at Shelby Hospital” since November-December “it’s been a very full hospital for the most part.”
 
“That’s just indicative of the type of services that can be going on in that space,” Yates said. He mentioned the importance of surgeons and other subspecialists such as oncology, heart/vascular physicians, primary care and other disciplines.
 
“Such that we make sure that everybody knows that while it is a critical access hospital, it is capable of taking care of your needs, and when appropriate, transferring. But not until it’s appropriate," he said.
 
Yates was interviewed a little more than a year after the coronavirus pandemic’s start. 
 
“Going on a 100-year celebration for Shelby Hospital, I think it’s good timing to restate the vision of what we’re doing at Shelby Hospital and where we’re going moving forward,” Yates said.
 
He also provided details on how the pandemic had affected Shelby Hospital in other ways. “Much like the governor's orders, elective procedures were shut down," he recalled of events of about a year ago. People also were staying home.
 
"So it did reduce our number of surgeries. It did reduce our number of primary care visits," Yates said. "It did reduce our number of imaging procedures that were being done. Our emergency room has stayed open this entire time. Our OB-GYN practice has stayed open that entire time.”
 
"While we did suspend our operations in the OR and the OB unit in December, all of the services have remained open, per se, during that entire time," Yates said. "I think that’s worth calling out."
 
"And it’s worth calling out, as well, while our volumes went (down) about 50 percent automatically in March and April of last year, across the nation and in Shelby and Mansfield, as well,” Yates said, “we were able to continue to support all of our associates and continue to have them working in different jobs and roles." 
 
“And they did a great job in that space during that time such that everybody could continue to be paid,” he added.
 
March 1, 2014 is the date Shelby Hospital became an official member of the OhioHealth family. Prior to that time, Shelby Hospital had been an "affiliate” hospital of OhioHealth since 2010 with formal business and clinical relationships including supply chain support and purchasing services, according to an announcement at the time.
 
As it reaches its 100th birthday, Shelby Hospital's “critical role” within OhioHealth’s wider 12-hospital system also is highlighted.
 
“OhioHealth came up into this community to meet our mission in and around this broad county swath,” Yates said. “Shelby Hospital — as a critical access in northern Richland County into eastern Crawford, southern Huron, all of these areas — should be able to help take care of the people in those areas.”
 
“When we think about this area — north central (Ohio) — with Shelby and Mansfield, these are the areas where we want to have spokes from, the ability to keep care local so that people don’t have to go across (State Route) 30, up and down (Interstate ) 71,” Yates said. “They can get the best care that they can receive right here locally all of the time.”
 
With the 100th birthday here, Yates looked toward the 25-bed hospital’s future and its long-term plans. “I would say the No. 1 thing is continuing to market and brand and make sure everybody knows what services are being delivered at Shelby, growing those services," he said.
 
“As a critical access hospital, really managing our acute care inpatients, having a great 24/7 emergency room where patients can be seen, having a great surgical department,” he said. “Those are some of the things that I look for in the coming year and years amongst many others.”
 
Speaking of the next three to five years, Yates mentioned making sure all the broader communities know what can be cared for in that geographic area and making sure “we have the providers and the associates to meet the needs of the community.”
 
“And to be out and about in the community so that it’s not just a handful of our associates and providers who are out there, but that the community leaders, all of the community know who we are and become very engaged with having Shelby Hospital as your local provider of health care,” Yates said.
 
“Please be engaged with us,” he said in discussing the Shelby community and its assets. “Try and keep care local where appropriate. That is a real message that will help Shelby Hospital for many, many moons to come.”
 
As the hospital’s 100th anniversary arrives, OhioHealth's Christina Thompson and Yates noted the other contributions and benefits the facility brings through partnerships. Examples mentioned include Bicycle Days, Shelby City Schools and downtown revitalization.
 
“There’s a lot with what we’re doing to partner with the kids in the area, with the Ys,” Thompson said in citing an example. 
 
“Our mission is to improve the health of those we serve, and we do that in various ways, not just within the walls of the hospital," said Thompson, the media relations and communications manager
for OhioHealth Mansfield and Shelby Hospitals.
 
Economic benefits are evident, as well, through Shelby Hospital. "Just from a city tax base perspective, if you’re on the City Council, our employer tax base there is about $150,000 to the city on an annual basis,” Yates said, specifying that this was income-related taxes related to hospital employees.
 
Yates is upbeat about the future. He noted that the CEO of OhioHealth was in the region earlier in March. "There seems to be a question of, 'What is Shelby (Hospital)? Are we going to continue to be around?'" Yates said.
 
"The answer is yes and yes and yes," Yates quickly added.
 

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