by Richard Uhlhorn
The Hospital Board of Commissioners held a special meeting on Friday, July 24 to discuss the future operation of both the Sanctuary and the Clinic, both of which have not been profitable hospital enterprises.
The Sanctuary is currently being used as a swing bed facility to take on patients during the ongoing COVID pandemic.
The Clinic has not operated profitably since the Hospital purchased it.
CEO George Rohrich said during the meeting, “A lot of things fell short of leadership… we are fixing that.”
CEO George Rohrich
With respect to the Sanctuary, it cannot be reopened until the Governor declares the health emergency is over or the hospital retains 20 percent of bed capacity idle. Reopening would be at least 12 months out. However, closing the Sanctuary would have an impact on the new facility. “Removing that wing has a potential saving of $3 million,” said Rohrich.
Chairperson Phyliss Gleasman said, “It appears to me tht we are throwing up our hands and throwing in the towel. Cutting, cutting, cutting is all I hear. I think we need to provide services,” she said. Gleasman added that no one in the region is offering the services provided by the Sanctuary. “I just don’t want to give up.”
Commissioner Mary Murphy added that she is always concerned about losing services, but that with a changing reimbursement issue that the hospital can’t control, it is hard to operate. Commissioner Jordana LaPorte added that the community doesn’t, with few exceptions, use the Sanctuary. “New services are a much better idea,” LaPorte added.
Commissioner Mary Signorelli wanted a study to address the services they would lose. LaPorte said private pay won’t pay for 30-day in-patient services. “Private pay only pays for out-patient services.”
Rohrich said he was looking for guidance from the commission. “Should we continue or discontinue,” he asked.
The commission voted to shutter the Sanctuary and have the direct leadership look into a new program that would provide out-patient services.
CEO Rohrich opened the Clinic discussion about operating at a loss when the leadership at Columbia Valley Community Health is providing high quality care. “We need to have an upbeat conversation with a joint adhoc committee of both boards,” said Rohrich. He said he is a big proponent of urgent care and that there are desires to have an urgent care facility in Manson.
Rohrich provided a power point graph that had three options:
- Close down the Clinic and firm up a partnership with CVCH;
- Right size the Clinic to reduce the losses; and
- Leave the Clinic as it is.
Commissioner Mary Murphy said, “I would like to look at right sizing. Right size for our community.” However she worried that it they would lose the 340B program which offers discounted prices on drugs.
Gleasman asked what the Hospital can do to recapture patients at the Clinic? Devon Ehlert, CCOO, replied that a marketing plan was needed. Augustin Benegas, the hospital’s marketing director added that a marketing plan is in the works.
Rohrich said there were many things the Hospital hasn’t done well and could do better at. “Getting to a break even point (at the Clinic) in a couple of years is problematic.”
Signorelli added that closing the Clinic is not a good idea at this time. She worries about a new business coming to the community and opening up in direct competition. “We need to explore what we have,” she said. Fred Miller added that the Clinic has been managed poorly with no marketing. “We should improve our act and do our jobs properly. We are not at a point of closing it… there are two many options available.”
Rohrich said that the commission should look at resizing the Clinic and get the bottom line to zero. Miller told Rohrich that it needs resizing and said Rohrich needs to help them figure it out. Gleasman wants the staff at the Clinic to offer their ideas about resizing also.
In the end the Commission directed the administration to right size the Clinic and Mary Murphy stated that they would like to see significant improvement over the next six to eight months. “Looking at the financials is very critical on a month to month basis.” Miller added that as long as right sizing is not closing it down.
The Hospital Commission will be discussing re-starting the new Hospital Project on Tuesday, July 28. The regularly scheduled meeting will begin at 1:30 and last until approximately 3:30 p.m. The public is invited to listen in on Zoom at: