Hi everyone. The holiday season is now upon us. The next few months will go very fast as the holidays approach. I hope this past month has been a good month for you and your family.
I would like to start this month by updating you on a couple different service lines. Henry County Health Center welcomes three physicians who will be providing outreach services at the health center.
Dr. Timothy Monson and Dr. John Phillips from Great River Health Systems are providing outreach surgical services until HCHC’s General Surgeon Dr. Michelle Tansey returns from an extended leave. In addition to both physicians seeing patients at HCHC’s outpatient clinic, they will provide colonoscopy services. Dr. Monson will also provide minor outpatient general surgery. Dr. Phillips started at HCHC on October 18 and Dr. Monson began October 30. Dr. Mike McCoy, Great River Health Systems Obstetrician/Gynecologist, started providing outreach gynecology services at HCHC on October 19. He will see patients in the clinic every other Thursday and will perform minor gynecological surgical services at HCHC. For more information or to schedule appointments with these providers, please call 319-385-6770.
Dr. Robert Smith, HCHC’s OB/GYN for the last nine years, retired in the month of October. I would like to recognize and thank Dr. Smith for all of the wonderful care and support he provided to our community during his time at HCHC. The health center is continuing to provide the highest level of care for our women’s health patients. Kari Payne, CNM, and Kendra Bonnesen, FNP, CNM, are providing outstanding care with our OB nurses. We are continuing to work with Dr. Michael Ryskin, OB/GYN, and Dr. Eduardo Ricaurte, OB/GYN, as our primary two locum OB/GYN providers who are working in collaboration with our two certified nurse-midwives. We are still actively recruiting for a new OB/GYN. Over the past few weeks we have some renewed interest in our opportunity.
The healthcare industry right now is so very dynamic. One can quickly read or hear about all of the uncertainties and changes that are occurring throughout our state as well as throughout the nation. Those changes at the state and federal level are impacting us right here at HCHC. Fiscal year 2018 (started July 1, 2017) has had a challenging start. In the first quarter, HCHC has seen a -11% operating margin, with a -5.5% total margin. We have had a sudden decrease in utilization of the last three months that has significantly impacted our income statement. Thankfully, the health center’s balance sheet remains strong; however, we have identified the need to gain further efficiencies throughout the organization. Our goal is to find 10% cost savings by July 1, 2018. There has been a lot of planning and implementation of different strategies to help us achieve this targeted goal. We are currently slightly over 2% for savings and working our way to find further strategies in order to improve the health center’s finances.
For nearly 30 years, HCHC and Henry County Board of Health (HCBH) have worked collaboratively to provide public health services to residents of Henry County. During that time frame, HCHC has been responsible for the provision of services and employees associated with Public Health through a contractual agreement with the HCBH. This relationship has been beneficial to both the county and health center. However, due to ongoing regulatory changes at the federal and state level and associated financial implications of continuing to provide these services, HCHC recently began the conversation with the HCBH to assess the possibility of transitioning the services back to Henry County for the provision of public health services in Henry County.
This potential transition of services and employees back to the jurisdiction of Henry County Board of Health will not change public health priorities or programs. Public Health will continue to focus on safeguarding and improving the physical, mental and social well-being of the whole community. Immunization programs, home maker and maternal-child programs, disease surveillance and emergency preparedness as well as other initiatives will remain the same. Public Health will continue to participate in and have access to state and federal funded grants.
HCHC is a Critical Access Hospital which means that Medicare reimburses HCHC “at cost.” However, CMS and Medicare regulations also state that services and staff of certain hospital departments including Public Health, Emergency Medical Services, Obstetrics and nursing home are non-reimbursable. While HCHC is responsible for those costs, the costs are excluded from the Medicare reimbursement calculations. As a result, the costs associated with operating non-reimbursable departments directly impact HCHC’s financial position. The transition of public health services back to county jurisdiction will help lessen that impact on HCHC while not affecting the services provided to the community.
These type of transitions may be challenging and create anxiety. Thankfully, we have tremendous leadership within the Public Health Department along with committed professionals who will ensure a potential smooth transition. I would like to also thank the Board of Health for the opportunity to work with them on a potential model that would work well for Henry County along with ensuring continued outstanding public health services to the residents of Henry County.
Thanks again for taking the time to read our e-newsletter. Please make sure to look at the current newsletter to review the different events that will be occurring here at the health center that you may find benefit from. As always, I hope you find it informative and helpful for your health care. If you should happen to have any questions, please feel free to contact Shelley Doak or myself and we will be happy to follow up with you.