Most rural hospitals in New Mexico have been leased or sold to for profit institutions some years previously. The present board of trustees have made some mistakes in the financial and professional management of the hospital which has resulted in the current financial difficulty. This has happened before.

When I was on the hospital board, about twenty years ago, we made some of the same mistakes and had some financial issues, but not as serious as the hospital has had recently. There is a new Chief Executive Officer and a new Chief Financial Officer. I understand the new CFO has a very good background in the management of the financial aspects of hospitals.

If this hospital is sold to an outside for-profit institution, they can definitely operate the hospital and make a profit. The problem is that generally the physicians will be pressured to refer to the "parent" hospital, if there is one in the greater area. There will be less involvement of the community and more involvement of the owners of the hospital to operate the hospital in a for-profit mode.

Certainly someone has to be at the forefront in making sure there is adequate coding to collect the most from the insurance carriers and to be certain that patients pay their bills in payments on a regular basis, but this will be stretched further and to the legal limits by an outside for-profit institution.

I favor the continued operation of the hospital at a local level if at all possible. Believe me; physicians, hospital personnel, and patients will ultimately be happier.

John Bell
Retired Physician