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December 07, 2016
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Quality healthcare—for all

When Wayne Memorial Hospital’s administrative team plans ahead, quality healthcare for everyone in our region is always at the heart of our long-range vision. But negotiating the road is not easy, especially in today’s climate. The economy is sluggish. The federal government—think “Obama-care”—has mandated dramatic changes in reimbursement formulas for Medicare patients. State budget cutbacks are always an issue. Insurance companies routinely change the rules for payment.

For some hospitals, the mix has been toxic.

Our neighbor, Marian Community Hospital in Carbondale, closed in February. Other regional hospitals have merged or been purchased by bigger, mostly for-profit operations such as Community Health Systems, which bought Mercy Hospital, Moses Taylor and Mid-Valley in the Scranton area.

Wayne Memorial Hospital, the linchpin of Wayne Memorial Health System (WMHS), is one of the few remaining non-profit, non-allied, community-controlled healthcare providers in the region. WMHS is the largest private employer in Wayne County, with close to 1,100 employees and 17 facilities. We serve approximately 100,000 people along the Upper Delaware in Pennsylvania and New York.

Our hospital is in a unique position to steer its own growth, and over the last decade, our administrative team and board of directors took actions that now seem prescient.

In 2007, our primary care offices were named a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC). This designation brought with it huge incentives—such as paid malpractice insurance—for doctors to come work in our rural area. Our FQHC also accepts the under- and un-insured, as well as the privately insured, helping many who are between jobs or otherwise not able to afford ever-escalating health insurance premiums.

Today, our FQHC, which is called Wayne Memorial Community Health Centers (WMCHC), offers primary care, dental health, ob/gyn and behavioral health to everyone. It has 125 employees, including 13 physicians, and operates 10 facilities with more in the offing.

Secondly, the board of directors approved $6 million in 2006 for Electronic Medical Records (EMR) implementation to enhance patient safety and the quality of our healthcare services. This decision, made before EMR was mandated, resulted in our receiving $2 million from the federal government for “meaningful use” of EMR technology.

Healthcare, however, is always evolving. The federal government now pays for quality of care rather than volume in an effort to reduce costs. Surveys on clinical measures and patient experience are used to calculate reimbursement fees for hospitalized Medicare patients. Wayne Memorial stands to lose—or gain—hundreds of thousands of dollars each year.

There is a lot of financial “risk” at stake in this new world. There are also potential benefits. While we expect to remain independent, we may seek to partner with other entities to provide needed services such as stroke support or specialized cardiology programs. It may also mean expanding into new areas or locations.

In the last 12 months, Wayne Memorial Health System and WMCHC have opened or acquired primary care and outpatient ancillary service centers (x-rays, blood draw, EKG) in Wayne, Lackawanna and Susquehanna Counties in Pennsylvania. Future projects include behavioral health and dental services in Pike County.

Our expanding healthcare services impact the local economy by providing jobs and customers for housing, retail, food and other commodities. According to the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP), Wayne Memorial Hospital alone spends approximately $68.5 million dollars annually and provides a ripple benefit of $66.3 million dollars to the region’s economy. We see continued growth of these numbers.

Growing and expanding access to quality healthcare in our region continues to be Wayne Memorial’s vision for the future. We believe we’re on target to achieve our goals. Visit one of our facilities and let us know how we’re doing.

[David L. Hoff is the Chief Executive Officer at Wayne Memorial Health System.]