facebook-24x24

This letter is an attempt to clear up some of the misconceptions surrounding the hospital issue. By state statute, the Board of Trustees of Gila Regional Medical Center (GRMC) is not accountable to any entity, including the Grant County Board of Commissioners (GCBOC). The lack of a path for accountability and transparency is worsened by the New Mexico Open Meetings Act, which does not require hospitals to conduct their business in public. Under New Mexico’s Hospital Funding Act, the Commission appoints trustees, but the Act specifies that, “after their appointment, none of the members of the hospital governing board shall be removed except for cause specified in a written charge and after full public hearing on the charge.” In effect, the Commission has no recourse to address mismanagement – even when it threatens to bankrupt the hospital – other than to consider changing the ownership structure of the hospital.

The Commission instigated a partnership evaluation process primarily due to four major issues, 1) ever shrinking days of cash on hand, 2) the mill levy not passing, 3) how the cancer center issue was handled and 4) the amount of money it cost and is still costing to properly implement Meditech (electronic medical record system).

There are three proposals the Commission is currently considering for GRMC: Remaining a stand alone hospital, a member substitution partnership (which would require GRMC becoming a 501-C-3) with Cobre Valley Regional Medical Center in Globe, AZ and a lease and convey agreement with LifePoint, a publically held company based in Tennessee. Since the majority of the community conversation is centered on LifePoint, those concerns are what I will address here.

Non-profit vs. for profit. There is no inherent advantage to one or the other of these forms of ownership when it comes to hospitals in the United States. Both are capable of siphoning money out of a community, and both are capable of running high-performing operations. Any hospital, regardless of tax status, must have more revenue than expenses in order to care for patients, maintain infrastructure, invest in new equipment, and recruit and train its employees. While non-profits must prove that they are fulfilling their charitable missions, there is nothing in IRS regulations that regulates organizational culture, and there are hundreds of examples of charities, big and small, that abuse the trust and intent of their donors. For profit hospitals generally follow the same charity care policies while also paying local, state and federal taxes.

Fear the hospital will be stripped and sold. LifePoint has 71 hospitals, many of them in rural communities with demographics very similar to Grant County. They were established in 1993 and continue to be committed to providing high-quality care to their communities efficiently. LifePoint is and has always been focused on providing excellent healthcare in rural communities.

Fear over the loss of local control. If an agreement were to be reached with LifePoint, there would still be a local board that would have a significant voice in how healthcare was delivered in Grant County.

LifePoint is being considered because they have the expertise and resources necessary to support GRMC and its patients. LifePoint is known for reinvesting profits in the company’s hospital operations, meeting and exceeding charitable and capital investment commitments. LifePoint has invested tens and hundreds of millions of dollars in capital improvements for partner hospitals and their communities. The company has never been sued by a hospital partner for breach of contract—meaning they keep their promises. LifePoint is dedicated to high quality care and was awarded the John M. Eisenberg Innovation Award for Patient Safety in 2017.

A typical lease and convey contract with LifePoint could include things such as retaining employees and doctors for a designated period of time, maintaining current levels of charity care, and covenants designed to ensure the relationship with LifePoint is positive and productive for both parties for the foreseeable future. The Commission has engaged a leading healthcare attorney to be sure the county and the community’s best interests would be represented in a contractual agreement.

From the beginning, the Commission’s process of evaluating our hospital’s situation has been characterized by thoughtfulness, probing questions, significant research, contemplation, a clear understanding of how critically important our hospital is to this community and a sincere desire to do what’s right for the future of healthcare in Grant County.

Unfortunately, the process has often been characterized by mistrust, finger pointing, willful misinformation, opinions freely given with very little basis in fact, fear of reprisal for truth telling, lack of transparency and personal agendas. All of which I believe has led us to our current dilemma—the inability to talk honestly about the state of healthcare today, locally and nationally, and how it threatens the future of healthcare in Grant County.

Our hospital is a web of complex, small systems (revenue cycle, policies and procedures, EMR/Meditech, clinics, frontline care providers, accreditation, regulatory, and contractual just to name a few) that must fit together and function efficiently as one system. To succeed, GRMC’s systems must operate at the highest level possible, and also fit into the larger, extremely complex system of healthcare today. Focus has been on the financial condition of the hospital but the financial condition is actually a symptom of how broken many, if not all, of the other systems in the hospital are.

The questions before us are: do we have the time, money and expertise to fix all of these small, broken systems while trying to keep our heads above the rising tide of razor thin margins, rapidly escalating capital requirements, massive regulatory changes and a fundamentally dysfunctional national healthcare system? Do we wait and risk bankruptcy—a catastrophic infrastructure failure? How much risk will local taxpayers have to shoulder if we continue alone? Do we acknowledge that the current structure may not be conducive to a thriving hospital in the future? Will aligning with a partner mitigate these risks?

My hope is that we set aside our past actions, personal agendas, and our fears and look thoughtfully, with open minds and open hearts, at the options in front of us and do what is truly best for the future of healthcare in Grant County.

Alicia Edwards, Vice Chair, District 3

Live from Silver City

Join GCB Three Times Weekly Updates

Welcome to Three Times Weekly Updates! You will be subscribed to email notifications with links to recently posted articles.
captcha 
You can unsubscribe anytime. We never share or rent your email to anyone.

Fire Alerts

Editor's Note

Those new to providing news releases to the Beat are asked to please check out submission guidelines at http://www.grantcountybeat.com/about/submissions They are for your information to make life easier on the readers, as well as the editor.

Welcome to our new version of classified ads.  We invite you our readers to post your own classifieds, which are available for viewing 24/7 and are very reasonable in price. Right now you'll see a classified for mobile home lots for rent.

We have received complaints about large images blocking parts of other articles. If you encounter this problem, click on the title of the article you want to read and it will take you to that article's page, which shows only that article without any intruders. It's a software problem, not easily fixable, other than showing fewer articles per summary page. If you are a frequent visitor, you might not mind fewer articles per page, but if you only come once in a while, you likely want to see more articles to browse. Write me at editor@grantcountybeat.com to let me know your feelings on this issue. 

Because you are an esteemed member of The Grant County Beat readership, be assured that we at the Beat continue to do everything we can to be in full compliance with GDPR and pertinent US law, so that the information you have chosen to give to us cannot be compromised. 

The Beat continues to bring you new columnists.Recent additions  include one about end of life options, Compassionate Care.

The Beat has a column for you gardeners out there. The Grant County Extension Service will bring you monthly columns on gardening issues. The first one posted is on Winterizing your houseplants and patio plants.

The Beat totally appreciates its readers and subscribers!  

WARNING:

All articles and photos indicated by a byline are copyrighted to the author or photographer. You may not use any information found within the articles without asking permission AND giving attribution to the source. Photos can be requested and may incur a nominal fee for use personally or commercially.

Don't forget to tell advertisers that you saw their ad on the Beat.

Feel free to notify editor@grantcountybeat.com, if you notice any problems on the site. Your convenience is my desire for the Beat.

If you subscribe to the Join GCB Three Times Weekly Updates option on the left side of this page, you will be subscribed to email notifications with links to recently posted articles.

It's really easy to check to see if there's a classified ad. Just click on Classifieds in the blue menu and the page will open letting you know if there is a classified ad. Remember that your buying classified ads gives you a wide readership, as well as supporting the Beat. Post YOURS for quick results!

Note that if an article does not have a byline, it was sent to the Beat and written by someone not affiliated with the Beat

Consider the Beat your DAILY newspaper for up-to-date information about Grant County. It's at your fingertips! One Click to Local News.

Thanks for your support for and your readership of Grant County's online news source—www.grantcountybeat.com