Is it just me or is your summer just flying by? Our unusual spring has given way to a bit more normal summer with more typical hot days and cool nights. It's time to get outside and enjoy the weather before winter hits again…in September!
On the new hospital front, we continue to work with HUD to process our loan application. One of the most important issues on which we are educating them relates to the size of the new hospital and more specifically the number of inpatient beds that we are planning. Our current building is 25 beds, a limit that we cannot exceed if we want to maintain our Critical Access Hospital (CAH) status. You may recall, CAH status that allows us to be reimbursed in a much more favorable manner from Medicare and Medicaid. The Critical Access Hospital program allows more than 1,300 small, rural hospitals nationwide to remain financially viable.
As we work through the application review process, we are educating our HUD team on issues like our remote location, our weather which at times does not allow patients to be flown, and in extreme conditions, even to be driven to a larger facility, our fluctuations in volume from summer to winter, etc.
Even as we work on the new hospital, we continued to make improvements in our current building and to the overall services at St. John's offers. A couple of examples:
• St. John's has been awarded a $115,000 grant from the Murdock Foundation to support the purchase and installation of a new "Rad Room #1." Rad Room #1 as it is currently contains an old Phillips x-ray and fluoroscopy instrument. The Murdock Grant will be supplemented by a $50,000 gift from the St. John's Foundation! Combined, those two gifts take a huge bite out of the estimated project cost of $275,000. The new equipment will be installed later this year and we plan to move it to the new hospital.
• In partnership with the Northwest Community Health Center, the Western Montana Area Health Education Center, and the University of Montana, St. John's is piloting a new mental health care model. We have hired a Masters level social worker and a PhD level clinical psychologist, both of whom are new graduates and need to complete their clinical training. Under supervision from the University of Montana, while practicing at the Northwest Community Health Center, and being on the payroll at St. John's, these new mental health providers will began offering services to our local community by late summer. In addition, these individuals will provide much needed assistance to our existing Home Health and Hospice programs, especially the bereavement components of these programs.
• And finally, I want to make sure that you know about our new hospitalist program. A hospitalist is a physician that specializes in the care of hospitalized patients. Our program has been developed in close consultation with our medical staff. In addition to improving the care and treatment that our inpatients receive, this program will greatly improve the quality of life of our medical staff and thereby enhance our ability to recruit and retain much-needed physicians. You may not know it, but many physicians will not even interview with us if we do not have a hospitalist program in place. Until we are able to hire the 2 physicians we are currently recruiting, our current primary care physicians are providing this coverage to the hospital. As with any change, this one will take some getting used to. Many patients will quite naturally still want to see their own primary care physician. But, just as you want to see an emergency room specialist when you come in to the ER with a critical condition, having doctors who focus exclusively on the care of inpatients will result in improved patient care.
Thanks once again for your support of St. John's.
Enjoy the rest of your summer!
|350 Louisiana Avenue, Libby, MT 59923 (406) 283-7000|