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Meetings provide partnership info

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DON GROVES/Albany Ledger

Northwest Medical Center CEO Jon Doolittle speaks about NMC's partnership with Heartland Health/Mosaic Life Center Aug. 28 at the First Baptist Church of Albany.

By Don Groves

The Albany Ledger

Two town hall meetings provided a greater understanding of a partnership between Northwest Medical Center and Heartland Health/Mosaic Life Care on Aug. 26.

Held Aug. 26 and Aug. 28 at the First Baptist Church of Albany, the two meetings nearly 150 people. On Aug. 28, NMC CEO Jon Doolittle and Dirk Clark, chief strategy officer for Heartland Health, answered questions about the partnership.

Doolittle opened the meeting sharing a history of Northwest Medical Center, which began as the nonprofit Gentry County Memorial Hospital in 1954. He said the organization that formed the hospital remains in place today and is governed by a volunteer board of directors.

Doolittle said Northwest Medical Center has long had a close relationship with the community and will continue to do so. He said the decision to enter a partnership with Heartland/Mosaic wasn’t done arbitrarily but the NMC board decided to take advantage of an opportunity.

“We went to them, literally, years ago,” Doolittle said.

Doolittle explained why the partnership came about. He said most of Northwest Medical Center’s revenue comes from outpatient treatment. He said only about 20 percent of the revenue come from inpatient care.

He said hospitals across the nation are seeing fewer and fewer inpatient admissions.

“It’s not taking away inpatient beds … it’s taking a step forward.”

Doolittle said the cost of U.S. healthcare has increased dramatically compared to other industrial nations around the world. He said the United States spends two to two and half times more per person than other countries and is ranked 35th out of 39 countries.

Federal reimbursement, in part because of sequestration, has decline, Doolittle said, yet at the same time regulators are requiring hospitals to provide higher quality care at lower costs to patients. Because of that, he said most hospitals do not have positive operating margins.

While those remain concerns nationwide, Doolittle said Northwest Medical Center didn’t enter a partnership with Heartland/Mosaic Life Care because of a funding shortfall. He said patient satisfaction scores for NMC are high and patient volumes are up at all of its clinics. With that in mind, Doolittle said the hospital board considered a way to provide higher quality healthcare at lower costs while meeting changes in healthcare technology.

With 60 percent of community hospitals part of a larger healthcare system, Doolittle said Northwest Medical Center would take advantage of Heartland/Mosaic Life Care’s technology and expertise by partnering with their system. Heartland is part of the Mayo Clinic Care Network, which NMC will also have access to with the partnership. Heartland/Mosaic’s electronic medical records system will provide savings to NMC and the partnership will provide even greater purchasing power, such as self insurance for caregivers, to NMC, Doolittle said.

‘Those gauze pads, that surgical tubing, those are cheaper,” he said.

Northwest Medical Center also will benefit from an updated hospital campus that will bring all of NMC’s clinics in Albany on one site, Doolittle said. The new campus will add about 18 extra exam rooms, new medical office building and move the helipad adjacent to the emergency room. The contract calls for Heartland/Mosaic to begin construction by the end of 2016.

“We feel it’s time for a refresh of our campus,” Doolittle said.

Northwest Medical Center will continue operate as a nonprofit and retain its property and financial assets under the partnership, Doolittle said. NMC will lease its property and transfer its operations to Heartland/Mosaic effective Dec. 29. NMC caregivers will continue to provide care at the hospital following the partnership. At the same time, Heartland/Mosaic will provide emergency services equal to or greater than those provided by NMC while maintaining or enhancing other NMC medical services throughout the lease.

Clark said over the next four months Heartland/Mosaic will look at NMC’s operations and find out what can be done in Albany that’s being done at Heartland Health in St. Joseph and at its other hospitals and clinics.

Clark also explained why Heartland Health is changing is name to Mosaic Life Care. He said that although the company had the legal right to use the name Heartland Health in the St. Joseph region it did not have the same right in other areas. He said Mosaic has grown in the Kansas City area, building eight new facilities there in the last 12 months.

 

Hospitals announce partnership

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Heartland Health and Mosaic Life Care in St. Joseph, Mo., alongside Northwest Medical Center in Albany, Mo., announced Aug. 26 an operational agreement of partnership.

“Our systems have a long history of working side-by-side in providing health care in our region,” said Mark Laney, MD, president and CEO of Heartland Health and Mosaic Life Care. “This further agreement is a continuation of that integrative partnership and will increase efficiencies to control health-care costs, maintain high quality of care, as well as continue to provide the best experience possible to those we serve.”

As the health-care industry moves away from a fee-for-service delivery model and more toward a population health model, critical access hospitals such as Northwest Medical Center, face a particularly unique set of challenges due to their size, Northwest Medical Center CEO Jon Doolittle said.

“As the Affordable Care Act progresses, rural health-care facilities must seek out new and innovative answers as demands increase and reimbursements decline,” Doolittle said. “We as innovative partners are bringing together our strengths to ensure quality healthcare access and economic vitality in this area for future generations and create a model that rural areas across the country will seek to emulate.”

Nationally, independent community hospitals across the country are increasingly entering into integrative agreements, Missouri Hospital Association president and CEO Herb Kuhn said.

“Hospitals throughout the state are focused on serving and strengthening their communities in times of significant change in health care,” Kuhn said. “Each hospital will have a different set of circumstances and community-specific challenges and opportunities. Cooperation can build on a hospital’s strengths and create new capacity with the hospitals maintaining their respective community-owned status. Where this is happening, both the hospitals and communities can benefit.”

Area community members are invited to a town hall meeting at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 28 at the First Baptist Church of Albany to discuss Northwest Medical Center’s partnership with Heartland Health and Mosaic Life Care.

To learn more about the agreement, visit www.northwestmedicalcenter.org/partnership-announcement

 
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