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Twelve days of illness: it sounds like something no one would volunteer for.

But staff at the Chadron Community Hospital did just that. The twist is that the hospital’s “12 Days of Illness” was a chance for staff members to display their acting chops in a video showcasing the hospital and its programs.

The video earned the hospital second place – and $7,000 – in Athena’s “My Hospital, My Community” contest in December. Chad Turner, vice president of community health systems for Athena Health, presented the award to hospital staff last week.

“You are such a fabric of the community,” Turner said, speaking about the difference between a health system, which encompasses care from birth to death, and a hospital, solely providing acute care.

The contest was designed to highlight rural hospitals, which are usually among the top employers in small communities, and the importance they play.

“It’s an underappreciated market,” Turner said.

Forty-five hospitals submitted videos of their own, and more than 300 individuals entered testimonies on behalf of their hospitals.

“We were tickled when we saw your video,” Turner told the Chadron hospital staff.

Chadron Community Hospital and Health Services “12 Days of Illness” had staff members tending to “patient” Russ Seger for 12 days, set to the tune of “12 Days of Christmas.” Seger, for example, received “four x-rays, three squares meals, two Percocet and great care here in Chadron.”

Jen Brown, the hospital’s chief financial officer, said she thought the contest was a great idea given that the hospital employs more than 200 people. Diana Lecher in the facility’s home health and hospice department spearheaded the project, and her daughter filmed it for the hospital. The grant money will be used to do outreach with employees and in the communities along Highway 20 about the importance of advanced directives.

“We’ve had this vision of having better advanced care directives in our community,” Lecher said. “We are tired of having these conversations in the emergency room.”

You can view the hospital’s video entry at

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