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PMC Sets Sights on New Strategic Plan, Recaps Current Accomplishments

 

The final report on Prowers Medical Center’s Strategic Plan was summarized for PMC board members by CEO Craig Loveless this past Wednesday, August 23rd.  He noted that although it was a final report, many of the programs are on-going for improvements to the hospital’s interaction with the community and improved medical care for patients.

“One area which has seen significant improvement has been the turnaround for the wait for lab results,” he explained, adding that this was a big issue for the hospital. “We cut down on the average time, which was 5.4 days, to just 2.4 after the first month of utilizing our new process.  It’s still not perfect and while it only takes some lab work to be completed in 30 minutes, there is still the time needed to communicate the results through the providers to the patients.”  Loveless said the hospital will continue to push for more use of the Patient Portal which provides internet access to a patient’s records by PMC.  “The results are almost instantaneous when a patient can immediately access their records.  Of course we also will have a follow-up discussion between the patient and provider,” he explained.

Medical reconciliation, providing patients with a current listing of their medications is also a priority where a laminated card with medications is provided to a patient which can be matched against hospital records. This can be very useful in emergency room situations, he explained.

Loveless said the hospital is working on ways to attract physicians to PMC, “We weren’t successful in getting one this past year. We were close, but that doesn’t count and we’ll rollover our efforts into this new year to find a way to attract more providers to our clinic and community.”

The problem with finding new physicians isn’t an isolated event to southeast Colorado, but a national problem, which was discussed by PMC’s Quorum liaison, Jim Weidner. “Schools are not pumping out enough graduates to meet the demand with our aging population,” he told the board.  “Part of the solution is not to count too much on medical providers, but to cultivate a blend of mid-level providers, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and make more use of telemedicine technology.”  Weidner said the colleges are full but the supply is less than demand, especially for an aging population in the country.

Board member, Ron Farmer, attributed the changes in part to the increasing costs of following more rules and regulations in the medical field. “Thirty years ago, many doctors had either stand-alone practices or were part of a group or clinic.  Now, because they can’t afford to sustain a private operation, most are working through hospitals.”  He noted that the lack of full Medicaid compensation to rural hospitals especially, can contribute to some closings.

Farmer also noted that a $580,000 state grant to Southeast Mental Health is helping fund an opioid-addiction clinic for La Junta. The facility will be a temporary 10,000 square foot modular building while a permanent site is developed.  The unit will feature 24 beds with half intended for more serious cases of addiction.  He added that this new facility, by being classified as a specialty clinic, will not compete with existing providers in the area.  It will serve as a central location including Las Animas and Huerfano Counties.  Farmer noted that this ties in with a current survey project conducted by Jay Brooke regarding public and provider opinion on opioid use disorder in the region.

The hospital’s security camera system is outdated to the point that replacement parts for the analogue system aren’t available. The board voted to purchase a new system for the hospital’s interior and exterior which offers zoom lens capability and a 30 day retrieval storage capacity.  The hospital wasn’t immune from the August 10th hail storm.  Loveless noted that portions of the roof were to be assessed for future replacement, but because of the severity of the impact, their insurance coverage will afford a 100% replacement.  “Some portions of the roof’s membrane were damaged, but there was no penetration by the hail, so we may actually save some funds in the long run,” he explained.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: City of LamarCountyFeaturedHealthPublic Safety

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