Windell M. McCord, administrator of the Heart of Texas Memorial Hospital, recently attended the Southwest Conference of Rural and Community Hospitals in Dallas. The three-day conference, sponsored by the Texas Organization of Rural & Community Hospitals (TORCH), featured educational programs on financial, operational and regulatory issues. “With all the challenges facing small hospitals in Texas, we must take every opportunity to understand the issues that impact us,” McCord said. “TORCH is an advocate all during the year for rural hospitals across the state. They supply us with information about issues, they lobby for our cause in the state legislature and with Congress, and they are the first group we go to when we need help with a new problem or challenge.” McCord said that constant education is vital because healthcare is changing so rapidly. “Just about the time we get one problem solved and one challenge met, we are faced with new issues that must be dealt with,” he said. “Membership in TORCH and the annual Southwest Conference of Rural and Community Hospitals are two dynamic venues for learning about new opportunities and staying abreast with what is going on which helps us deal with current challenges and problems facing our hospital.” The TORCH annual conference was held April 4-6 at the Hotel Inter-Continental in Dallas. In addition to a full agenda of educational/informational sessions, the conference featured over 75 exhibits by companies and organizations which supply a huge array of products and services to rural hospitals. The trade show provides an outstanding opportunity for administrators to see the latest innovations in the products and services available to the healthcare providers. TORCH, formed 11 years ago, is the only association in the state devoted exclusively to providing advocacy and leadership in addressing the special needs and issues of the state’s rural and community hospitals. TORCH focuses on problems and challenges that are unique to general acute care hospitals of fewer than 150 beds.