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SPRHC lose two physicians due to financial issues

by Eric Mullens
WALSENBURG —  As the Huerfano County Hospital District Board of Directors attempt to cope with ever-growing expenses, and declining revenues, hard decisions have had to be made recently, including the non-renewal of two physicians’ contracts.
The board of directors met in a regular monthly session on March 22, and CEO Kay Whitley issued a press release concerning the staffing structure of Spanish Peaks Regional Health Center.
Whitley explained a recent sustainability analysis performed by Quorum Health Resources (QHR) found SPRHC has been overstaffed in the years prior to the current administration.  The press release said, in part, “Due to these findings combined with provider fee cuts from  state and federal government funding, QHR recommended to the CEO and Board of Directors to halt the renewal of several contacts, including those of Dr. Boynton and Dr. Primer.”  Whitley said of the doctors, “Both are outstanding physicians who have served our community well for years.”
QHR reviewed all economic factors facing SPRHC against 400 other similar organizations within their group and found past staffing structures were unsustainable based on financial data and performance requirements.
The press release issued to the World Journal Tuesday, March 27 said, “After decades of operating unsustainably, CEO Kay Whitley, the Senior Leadership Team, and the SPRHC (Huerfano County Hospital District) Board of Directors have championed the cause of bring the organization into a sustainable model ensuring the longevity of the organization for our regional community for generations to come.”
The QHR recommendation was to halt renewal of several contracts, but only the two physicians’ contracts were announced in the press release.
“This was a totally fiscal decisions, Whitley said March 22, both doctors responded gracefully and with professionalism, with one doctor saying if the hospital needed help, he would be ‘in the wings’ if needed.”
The special district mail-in ballot election this spring will address the shrinking provider fee and other financially adverse requirements facing rural health care as the district asks voters to approve a 3.5 mill levy increase.  The ballots will be mailed to eligible voters in mid-April and will include 12 candidates seeking three open board of director seats.
In other business:
The regional health center’s strategic plan has not been completed but senior leadership and administration attended a work session on the plan earlier this month.
The four members of the board present at the March 22 session voted to approve a resolution designating a location to post notice and approved policies concerning ethics and compliance enforcement/ discipline police, ethics and compliance programs and education training and the police regarding facility contracts and agreements.
In her report, Chief Clinical Officer Mary Cope said there are plans to renovate two additional hospital rooms as Extended Care units.
Cope also reported the new ambulance has been delivered and staff are in the process of getting it registered and insured prior to putting it into service.
The ambulance was purchased with a matching grant by Huerfano County prior to the hospital district taking control of the ambulance service late last year.  The county leases the new ambulance to the district for one dollar per year.  Following the regular meeting the ambulance was parked outside of the facility and board members got a tour of the vehicle from SPRHC/ Ambulance Director Cindy Gutierrez.


April Secor said in her written report to the board, the average daily census for the state veterans nursing home was down to 86, falling below budgeted numbers of residents.  In renewed marketing efforts for the nursing home, Secor reported SPVCLC will be advertising in the Mountaineer, the Fort Carson newspaper.  She also reported the first CNA (certified nursing assistants) class for 2018 is underway and all of the students are doing well.  “We look forward to welcoming our new graduates into the center to serve our veterans,” she added.
State Observer Bill Gust reported Turner Brothers Roofing was slated to begin work on the damaged roofs at the former Lathrop Youth facility under an insurance contract with the state.  Work is expected to take at least three weeks.

Financial report for February:

Chief Financial Officer Lionel Montoya reported total patient revenue was lower than budget by $243,961 in the second month of the year, but was higher than the same period in 2017 by $117,408.  His written financial report indicated year-to-date revenue was lower than 2017 by $128,341.
Ambulance Director Cindy Gutierrez ( front left) explains some of the features offered in the new ambulance, such as an assisted lift mechanism, to board members chairman Bill Hix (standing behind Gutierrez) and Paul Coe and Ron Nielsen.                           Photo by Eric Mullens
Total expenses were $66,467 lower than budget in February, but still $104,9191 higher than February 2017.  Year-to-date expenses were lower than budget by $114,083 but remained higher than last year by $204,383.  “The bottom line financial activity in February was lower than budget and lower than last February at SPRHC,” Montoya reported.  “Net revenues were lower than expenses for the month by $48,690, and lower than budget by $15,292.  Year-to-date net revenues were lower than expenses by $162,201 and lower than budget by $78,661,” he said in the written report.