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Loveless Details Hospital Recruitment Efforts at PMC

Entrance to Emergency Room

 

Craig Loveless, Prowers Medical Center’s Chief Executive Officer, detailed some recent efforts to recruit more physicians to the hospital which serves Lamar and the surrounding area during his recent visit with the Prowers County Commissioners.

The CEO said the hospital continually recruits physicians, adding, “We need internal medicine back in our community and we just sent out an offer today (Tues, Feb 13th) to a doctor and a family practice physician is also paying us a visit.  If we gain their services, the hospital will be in good shape.”

Loveless said the hospital has to work within the confines of regulations, “On one measuring stick, we are considered medically underserved, so we still qualify there, but under HRSA (Federal Health Resources and Services Administration), we are not considered a health care shortage area. If you look at the numbers, we have roughly 21 providers in our community and the county is 12,000 people.  I’m counting doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants.  Those are the three groups that they count.  These are strictly the primary care providers and we also bring in specialists to provide care.”

Loveless explained that the hospital does not have a HPSA score, (Health Professional Shortage Area) which would allow PMC to bring in providers who would be reimbursed under the HRSA funds. He said the hospital does not qualify for that.  He said because of the manner in which High Plains Community Health Center operates, they can qualify for the funding for the HRSA grants, adding, “As a government entity, we do not have the HPSA score because the community has the total numbers of providers greater than it shows as a shortage area.”

He said that as a rural health center, Prowers Medical Center is encouraged by centers for Medicaid and Medicare to be staffed with nurse practitioners and physician assistants to fulfill the licensing requirement and the same group says they can’t admit to the hospital. Loveless said under Colorado provisions, nurse practitioners can act independently in the state, but there are restrictions set on what they can do for a patient.  He said, “Home health has to be signed off on by a physician, a doctor, not a NP.  The nurse practitioner can perform a visit, but the doctor has to sign off on it.”

The conversation turned to health rankings for this area. Loveless explained, “According to the health rankings, we are considered a pretty unhealthy community and only until recently did our number one priority, obesity, become switched with opioid abuse and teen pregnancy is still number three and we are also concerned about the prevalence of diabetes.”  Loveless explained that diet and our aging population is attributable to a higher incidence of diabetes levels and all these health problems are found across the ethnic make-up of the community.

Regarding opioids, Loveless said PMC is taking steps to guard against over prescribing pain medications and limiting the amounts allowed in a prescription, for example, following surgery. “You are going to experience pain from an operation, but we’re working to make patients aware that these offer pain reduction, but not pain elimination.”  Commissioner Buxton-Andrade citied studies that showed prolonged use of marijuana caused some people to become more susceptible to pain even with prescribed medications.

Regarding the national flu situation, Loveless said almost 100% of the staff at Prowers Medical Center has received the vaccine except for those who have a medical condition which prohibits it. He said there has only been one death in the community attributable to the flu and that was an older person.  Loveless explained that according to the CDC, immunizations are still the best way to help prevent the flu, or if you do contract the virus, it will help minimize the effects.  Part of the problem that occurs with a new flu vaccine is attempting to predict which factors will be found in the virus in an attempt to target it and that has not been as successful this year than in past years.  Loveless stressed that everyone should be immunized and that despite urban legends, a person does not get the flu from an immunization shot.

By Russ Baldwin

 

 

 

Filed Under: City of LamarConsumer IssuesCountyFeaturedHealthPublic Safety

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