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June 9, 2010     Portola Reporter
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June 9, 2010
 

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4A Wednesday, June 9, 2010 Portola Reporter EPHC collaborates with Tahoe Forest Hospital Linda Satchwell Staff Writer Isatchwell@plu masnews.com Cooperation was the name of the game at Eastern Plumas Health Care&apos;s May board meeting. Reporting on a re- cent meeting between the boards of directors and chief executive officers of EPHC and Tahoe Forest Hospital, Tom Hayes, EPHC's chief ex- ecutive officer, said' the goals of collaboration are "in- creased access to care, helping patients to access specialty care physicians and increas- ing access to Tahoe Forest's cancer center services." In addition, Hayes sees op- portunities for "group pur- chasing to help lower the cost of material supplies and med- ical supplies." He also envisions an im- proved quality, of care by "jointly developing appropri- ate quality metrics." Hayes has said repeatedly if EPHC looks good on those perfor- mance measures, that would be great. If not, he wants the staff and the community to know about it. Deficiencies tend to be self- correcting, he said, when per- formance scores are available for all to see. In addition, the community sees the hospital isn't hiding anything, which helps build a necessary trust. Hayes also reported EPHC and Tahoe Forest have devel- oped a letter of intent to col- laborate. When the phrase was met with some laughter froth the audience, he added, "We're dating." The goal for EPHC is "ulti- mately, stabilizing health care services in our community," Hayes said. Beyond the collaborative ef- forts outlined generally in the letter of intent, it would be up to the CEOs to work out the details. "This is not easy stuff, it requires work," he said. "You've got to push it." Hayes suggested the board review tangible progress made on a monthly basis, al- lowing the board to be up to date, ask questions and en- sure things move forward. The primary thing EPHC will offer Tahoe Forest is pa- tient referrals. While that ob- viously benefits Tahoe Forest monetarily, it's also a boon for EPHC's patients. They'll have easier access to a smaller, more personal, yet highly competent hospital that is closer than Reno, Nev. As an example, Hayes said patient transfers to Reno could be difficult. While he an- ticipates a transition period, he hopes EPHC and Tahoe Forest can get to a place where patient transfers are "seamless." Hayes said, "A personal goal on my part is that, as they de- velop their cancer center (in conjunction with U:C.-Davis), (we can) develop an outpatient infusion center out here in Portola to do outpatient chemotherapy here and in Quincy. If we can create that, it'll be very successful and it'll be really good for patients -- they won't have to travel when they're sick. We can do it just as effectively as (Tahoe Forest) can. It's just a matter of getting the right staff." McGrath pointed out the two hospitals "already collab- orate to some degree." Hayes filled in a few details: Tahoe Forest sent its director of radi- ology to help EPHC's radiolo- gy department, and several surgical staff have trained in Tahoe Forest's surgery de- partment. A recent billing problem was easily resolved to EPHC's advantage, which Hayes at- tributes to "the fact that we've started this relationship." , Tahoe Forest has given EPHC "a lot of equipment ... that they're not using any- more:" The long-range value of col- laboration isn't lost on EPHC's board and administra- tion either. "We don't know what the future of health care is," said board member Gall McGrath. "We don't know how tough it's going to get financially, and if we have already begun a working relationship with another hospital, if times get really tough and demand con- solidation to a greater extent, we've already begun the process -- we're already fa- miliar with each other (so) it's much easier to go there." Hayes has been trying to do some of the same types of col- laboration with Plumas District Hospital and Seneca Health Care District, "but progress has been somewhat slow." Another major collabora- tion, evidenced by the forma- tion of the Community Advi- sory Committee, is Hayes' plan to get a clear sense from the public of what residents like about EPHC; what they think the hospital does well; what they don't like and what they think needs im- provement. Hayes will also ask the com- mittee to look ahead and de- scribe services members would like EPHC to offer. Those topics will be dis- cussed in detail at the second meeting of the advisory com- mittee June 17. Linda Paterson, emeritus professor, University of Nevada School of Medicine and marriage and family therapist, will act as meeting facilitator. Plumas District Hospital reports bleak April financials Linda Satchwell Staff Writer Isatchwell@plumasnews.com A blissfully non-con- tentious Plumas District Hos- pital board meetihg Thurs- day, May 3, did yield a couple of notable moments. George Terhune, who is spearheading a Save Our Hos- pital group, spokeduring public comment about his group's plans to educate the public and advocate against the hospital tax limitation initiative that comes to the electorate via mail ballot.,elec- tion Aug. 31. The most notable topic, however, was PDH's dismal financial statement for April. Comparing this April to last, net operating revenue was down $596,392--from $1,992,049 to $1,495,657. Net income/loss figures showed a net income last April of $36,481 compared to a loss in the same month this year of $272,235. Chief Financial Officer John Nadone attributed the weak figures to a "tremen- dous swing" in the payer mix--from the "best payer to the worst." That worst payer, which pays less than 20 cents on the dollar, placing it even below MediCal, is the County Medical Services Program. Indigent patients who don't qualify for MediCal use this program. The "loss at the bottom line," reported Nadone, was $272,235, as compared to a budgeted net income of $47,676. Further, net patient rev- enue came in at $1,489,184, the lowest net figure that the hos- pital has seen in 18 months, according to Nadone. He said he hoped this month was an "anomaly." But board president Dr. Mark Satterfield returned to the subject during director com- ments to acknowledge that PDH's board and administra- tion weren't going to just as- sume April's financial pic- ture was merely an aberra- tion. "The board is acutely concerned that this might be a trend," he said. Satterfield attributed the losses to the fact that PDH is "down providers." The hospi- tal has been actively recruit- ing new doctors, but it has been a slow process, with the prospect of signing any new provider a hope on the hori- zon at this point. Satterfield also pointed to Eastern Plumas Health Care's "stabilized crew" of doctors, noting, "Some patients com- ing here are going back there or are going there temporari- ly because we don't have physicians." "00[.eathe,z Kodertka,t Learn Self-defense Balance Mind & Body Assault Prevention for Women Regular Classes for Adults and Children. 836-1148 www.graeagle.com/Teather Plumas Pines Shopping Center next to Quincy Care 00PORTOLA REPORTER Serving Sierra & Mohawk Valleys Postal Service: USPS (No. 439-420.) Periodicals postage paid at Portola, CA. Published: Every Wednesday morning by Feather Publishing, Co., Inc. Office Location and hours: 133 W. Sierra ( Hwy 70), Portola, CA 96122. Mailing address: 133 W. Sierra (Hwy 70), Portola, CA 96122. 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