Harlan ARH CEO addresses Chamber of Commerce

Published 2:33 pm Tuesday, May 16, 2023

The Harlan County Chamber of Commerce held its regular May meeting recently, which featured a presentation by Harlan ARH Hospital CEO Joe Horton.

Horton began by informing the Chamber of some of his personal background information.

“I grew up in Middlesboro,” Horton told the panel.

Horton said he served in the military (U.S. Marine Corps) before beginning his healthcare career as an X-ray technician in Knoxville. He started working at Harlan ARH in 2005, working in various positions to become CEO of the facility.

“It’s good to be here. I’ve got a great team,” Horton said.

Horton pointed out all medical facilities suffered patient volume downturns during the pandemic.

“You may or may not be aware the public health emergency (ended) on May 11,” Horton said. “We’re seeing our volumes pick up across the board. Inpatient volume is strong, ED visits are up, our surgery volume is up.”

Horton mentioned one of Harlan ARH surgeons suffered a health condition recently, resulting in fewer surgical procedures being performed at the hospital.

“He’s back and working with us,” Horton said. “We’re seeing an uptick in our deliveries; we’re looking at about 180 babies this year in Harlan.”

Horton also talked about the expansion of services at the hospital.

“They started pulmonary rehab service line back in May or June of last year,” Horton said. “We’re looking at complementing that with cardiac services as well.”

Horton added Harlan ARH would soon be starting a pediatric echocardiography service.

“It’s kind of a big deal because if you’ve got an infant and need echocardiography, there’s nowhere around here to go. It’s Knoxville or Lexington,” Horton said. “We’re partnering with the University of Kentucky’s echocardiography program.”

Horton said pediatric echocardiography requires highly specialized skills to interpret the images.

“That’s where the partnership with UK comes in,” Horton said. “Their pediatric echocardiologists will be ones to interpret the images that will be performed here.”

Horton also mentioned other improvements and additional doctors on staff are coming.

“We’ve got about a million dollars in projects that are going to be kicking off,” Horton said. “We’re going to be doing a full renovation of the adult dayroom at the behavioral health center. We’re going to be doing some fencing…those projects combined are worth about a million dollars.”

Horton also mentioned some sponsorships and community support Harlan ARH is involved in.

“We sponsored a table at the Boys and Girls Club’s Gala Event,” Horton said. “That was a fun event. We’re sponsoring the Polk Sallet Festival. We’ve sponsored a couple golf scrambles, the Lillian Faye (Lillian Faye Simpson Golf Classic) is coming up, we’ve got a team in that.”

Horton informed the Chamber members about additional programs at Harlan ARH Hospital, including the Baby Bag Program, which supplies useful items to new mothers.