To say Campbell County Health (CCH) handled the communication regarding the Hospice House, and our potential affiliation with the University of Colorado Health (UCHealth), poorly would be a mistruth; we handled it wrong.
For those of you who were hurt by our lack of action we want to extend an apology. We also want to say thank you. Thank you for holding us accountable, allowing us to take responsibility for our mistakes, and giving us the opportunity to implement change. Because of the breakdown in communication, there is a lot of confusion, questions and mistruths surrounding the affiliation with UCHealth. We want to put the facts out for our community to know and form their own opinions on the situation.
The sad reality in 2021 is the price of everything is drastically on the rise – this also applies to healthcare costs. Each year we are seeing an uptick in costs for supplies, labor, pharmaceuticals, operating costs, and equipment.
While our costs are rising, the amount we – the hospital as an institution – receive in reimbursements from the government and insurance companies is decreasing. At the end of the day, CCH is a business, and we are losing money.
Much of the money we do have now goes towards improvements, operating costs, and overall maintenance for the hospital and other facilities. Unfortunately, these costs are often not seen and are threatening services that are important to this community.
It is a sad fact, but it is CCH’s current reality, that many of these services will have to be cut. We desperately want to avoid cutting any services. We also do not want to increase the prices in our services because of the direct impact it will have on you, the consumer, and our friends and family. There is a gap between what our costs and revenues will allow and the desire we have to offer services to this community.
The question then becomes: How can we bridge this gap, and act in the best interest of the community we serve? The answer: the affiliation with UCHealth.
UCHealth is a nonprofit system with an immense level of integrity, and whose core goal is to provide the highest level of care for its’ patients. CCH chose UCHealth because we felt it was most in line with our values, our vision for the future of the hospital, and what would be best for the community.
Over the past 10 days we have made a diligent effort to bring this information forward. We have been engaging and answering questions you have asked. There are six questions that seem to be overwhelmingly the main concerns of the community.
- What does UCHealth get out of this affiliation?
- Who will remain the governing body of CCH?
- Who will our CEO answer to?
- Why is it important for the CEO to be employed by UCHealth?
- Will a new EMR system fix the billing issues?
- Will you be forced to go to UCHealth for care and treatment?
While we have provided answers to these questions on various outlets, we wanted to address the top six further in depth, and reference the management service agreement so you can get a much firmer understanding of what an affiliation means for the hospital and community.
What will UCHealth get out of this affiliation?
This is our most asked question. The answer is simple – UCHealth will receive a cost plus markup of 15% on every service provided to CCH, with the exception of CCH’s CEO, which is only at cost. The outline of the benefit for UCHealth is laid out in the management services agreement under Exhibit A-1, on page 19.
This affiliation is widening UCHealth’s network, and it is allowing their name to be associated with CCH, and in a location they have yet to have a presence in. It allows UCHealth the opportunity for more referrals, and for their health care system to be an option for our residents if a higher level of care and treatment is needed.
Who will remain the governing body of CCH?
This question is very important, and has been brought up several times. The elected Board of Trustees will remain in control of CCH. The affiliation with UCHealth will bring no changes to that. UCHealth will have no control or authority over CCH – that will remain with the Trustees who are elected by the residents of Campbell County. You can find this information in section 1.1 Purposes, on page 1 of the management services agreement.
The third most asked question is similar to the one we just addressed, but more specific:
Who will our CEO answer to if employed by UCHealth, and how is the compensation handled?
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) will answer directly to the elected Board of Trustees. Our CEO will oversee day-to-day operations, and the Trustees will be responsible for the position’s employment – see Section 1.3 of the management services agreement on page 2. The CEO being employed by UCHealth is non-negotiable, and this was the same non-negotiable demand from the other two organizations we met with (Billings Clinic, and Sister’s Charity of Leavenworth-St. Vincent’s). Our CEO being employed by UCHealth will in no way change the Trustees authority over the position, and will in no way change their governing authority – see Section 1.1 of the management services agreement on page 1. The compensation of our CEO will again be the authority of the CCH elected Board. CCH will fully reimburse UCHealth for all CEO compensations. UCHealth is simply a pass through, but in no way does this give them authority in our administration or over CCH. In the management services agreement this information can be found on page 5 section 4.1.
Why is it important for the CEO to be employed by UCHealth?
In other management services agreements, such as those with Ivinson Memorial Hospital in Laramie and Cheyenne Regional Medical Center, having the CEO be employed by UCHealth supports access to vast system resources, integration into a complicated system, connection into local regional leadership to pull resources, and the ability to navigate requests and ask more meaningful questions. In the past, UCHealth has supported the CEO with coaching, conflict resolution, HR or organizational development questions, and provide access to other experienced CEOs as a sounding board and networking.
If the CCH Board is not happy with the CEO’s performance, UCHealth will not be either. The two would work with the Board Chair/Executive Committee on action planning to improve performance, or other action. That is why UCHealth would attend Board meetings as a guest and check in with the Board Chair regularly.
It is no secret that CCH has had some issues with our billing and full transparency, it is one of our biggest complaints from our patients.
Will the affiliation improve CCH billing?
The affiliation will allow us to purchase a new Electronic Medical Records (EMR) system. You, the public have heard this, but what does that mean in regards to helping with the billing issues? The current system we have in our facility is not efficient, and it is not a cohesive system. Different departments are not on the same EMR system, which requires registration to occur more than once. The systems do not talk to each other, which not only can create a patient safety issue, but it allows for a larger margin of error when the correct information is to be sent to the billing department, to then be properly coded and then billed out. There are several steps in the entire process. A new EMR will allow for departments to communicate with one another. Information will be sent efficiently, there will be cohesion, and there will not be a need for multiple entries or registrations. Cutting down on the number of steps from the time the patient checks in, all the way to billing, will allow for a more direct process. This will aide in helping rectify some of the issues associated with billing.
The last question that is heavily asked is:
Will the patient be forced to go to UCHealth for care and treatment?
No, the answer is no. The decision concerning where care is received, treatment is conducted, and who is providing such care will always belong to the patient. An affiliation does not mean that you will be forced to travel to Colorado for care or treatment. CCH wants the community to know that the power of choosing where you receive care is ultimately your choice. When the situation arises that a person is needing acute care and must be transported to another facility that decision will be left to the patient. If the patient is rendered unable to make the decision for themselves, the decision will then be entrusted with the patient’s family. CCH in no way will limit your choices. Recommendations will be made by medical staff, and they will provide you with the information so you, the patient, can make the best decision for yourself.
We understand that the lack of information has led to confusion and we realize it is our responsibility to take responsibility and bring you answers. We are hoping this is a start. This affiliation is truly in the best interest of our community for the preservation and continuation of the services we currently offer. We will always act in the best interests of our community and we are so honored to serve you.