Budget cuts prompt service changes for SCRHCD
by Sublette County Rural Health Care District media release
May 13, 2016
Effective May 21, 2016, the Sublette County Rural Health Care District (RHCD) will begin initiatives to "right size" health care services provided in Sublette County. These initiatives come on the heels of an anticipated $3.5 million dollar reduction of tax revenue this coming budget year. It is also anticipated that the SCRHCD will face an additional $1.75 million reduction for the 2017 budget.
"The recent reductions in expenditures simply cannot keep pace with the anticipated reduction in revenue that the current health system was built on," states Malenda Hoelscher, Health Care Administrator.
Those reductions in expenditures include adjustments to employee benefits, position elimination per attrition, pay wage adjustments per attrition and changes of purchasing group for supplies and equipment. In addition, the RHCD has been aggressively committed to seeking Critical Access Hospital designation since August 2014. This change of designation would enhance revenue substantially through cost-based reimbursement for not only current services being provided, but the additional services a small general hospital offers including in-patient care, swing bed care and observation care. Currently about 30% of the transfers out of the RHCD emergency departments would be eligible for this level of care. The RHCD is currently awaiting a "green light" from the County Commissioners to make the required physical changes to the clinic structures to meet hospital life safety codes and regulations. The structures are owned by the county.
Over the past several months, the RHCD has solicited "best practice" for delivery of rural health care in our region from surrounding health care partners including Star Valley Medical Center-Afton WY, St John’s Medical Center-Jackson WY, Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center- Idaho Falls ID, Teton Valley Health Care- Driggs ID as well as the Wyoming Hospital Association. This information, coupled with an extensive review of the RHCD’s historical and current patient numbers including where and when those patients visit the RHCD and the associated expenditure and revenue with the service provided, was the basis for the decision of upcoming changes. The goal of these changes is to enhance the long term financial stability of the RHCD as well as assure that the community has the highest quality of health care it can afford.
Effective May 21, 2016, Saturday clinic hours in the Marbleton-Big Piney and Pinedale Clinics will be suspended. Both clinics will continue to operate their regular business hours of 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM Monday through Friday.
Hoelscher indicates that "while the mission of the District is to provide accessible, progressive and patient-focused care… the current volume of urgent care patients seen on Saturday mornings and the cost related to provide that service simply don’t add up. The suspension of the Saturday clinic hours is indefinite. The District will continue to provide the community with an after-hours answering service for the management of urgent care while all emergent care should continue to utilize 911."
Additional changes to service will be approved as part of the RHCD’s budget process at the next scheduled board meeting on Wednesday, May 18th at 6:00 PM in the County Commissioner’s Room in Pinedale. A full summary of service changes and other budget implications will be available to the community shortly thereafter on our website, www.sublettehealthcare.com.
"The SCRHCD Board is keenly aware that health care in Sublette County cannot continue as it has and remain financially viable and sustainable. The decisions made have been difficult at best but have been done in a methodical manner taking into account numerous factors including patient volume, staffing models and best practices around us. It is the goal that the District continues to offer excellent patient care each and every day," states Laura Clark, Chairman of the Board.