August 23, 2013
Volume 57, Issue 34
WHA Engages State Legislature in Fight for Rural Health Care
This week the Wisconsin Hospital Association worked directly with state legislators on a bipartisan "Dear Colleague" letter to Wisconsin Members of Congress in support of their local critical access hospitals (CAHs). Leading efforts in the State Legislature on the letter are Sen. Sheila Harsdorf (R-River Falls) and Sen. Bob Jauch (D-Poplar) along with Reps. Kathy Bernier (R-Chippewa Falls) and Chris Danou (D-Trempealeau). The lead sponsors asked their colleagues in the Senate and Assembly to join them in signing the letter. In their message to the rest of the Legislature, the four lawmakers wrote that, "Critical access hospitals are foundational elements of Wisconsin’s rural health care infrastructure, important economic drivers and provide family-sustaining jobs. We strongly support the role of our CAHs in our communities and hope you do too by joining us on this letter." The bipartisan letter was released August 22 and more than 40 members of the State Legislature have already signed on.
"While this is a federal issue that will be deliberated in Washington, the impact will be severe and felt in state legislative districts across Wisconsin," said WHA Executive Vice President Eric Borgerding. "We are very pleased the State Legislature, in bipartisan fashion, is weighing in with our congressional delegation and taking action to help stop this misguided proposal in its tracks."
The "Dear Colleague" letter is in response to a recent recommendation from the federal Department of Health & Human Services’ Office of Inspector General (OIG), which recently proposed the essential elimination of CAH designation for roughly 850 of the nation’s 1,300 CAHs based on their distance from another hospital. The proposal would impact the vast majority of Wisconsin’s 58 CAHs.
Removing the CAH designation, which allows for an alternative Medicare reimbursement structure for low-volume hospitals in underserved areas, could have damaging effects to rural hospitals and could threaten the availability of core hospital services to Wisconsin citizens.
In addition to the importance of having access to health care available locally, the letter expresses support for the role of CAHs as economic engines in rural communities.
"Rural hospitals are often one of the largest local employers, providing family-supporting wages that ripple throughout rural communities and that generate tax revenue to support state and local services," the letter reads. "A 2009 study, updated in 2011, by the University of Wisconsin-Extension and the Wisconsin Hospital Association, revealed that hospitals across the state generate $28 billion in economic activity and employ over 100,000 people. The study found that hospitals were one of the top ten employers in 44 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties and one of the top five employers in 20 counties."
Unfortunately, this is not the first time CAHs have been targeted based on their distance from another hospital; however, this is one of the most aggressive proposals to date. Other proposals have focused on an arbitrary distance such as ten miles from the next nearest hospital. The recent OIG proposal is especially troubling as Congress faces significant fiscal decisions later this fall, including addressing the debt ceiling, the federal budget, and physician payments under Medicare.
In related news, the Wisconsin Hospital Association and Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative sent a joint letter to the Congressional Delegation opposing the OIG recommendation.
Top of page (8/23/13)
Public mental health services in La Crosse, Jackson, and Monroe Counties are being transformed into a regionalized service model pursuant to a pilot project formally announced August 16. A goal of the pilot project is to potentially identify a new way of organizing public mental health services in Wisconsin.
Transforming Wisconsin’s county-based public mental health system into a regionalized system has been a key reform recommendation of WHA’s Mental Health Task Force to make access to mental health services more consistently accessible across Wisconsin.
"My access to care shouldn’t be limited by the geography of where I live," DHS Secretary Kitty Rhodes said at a press conference announcing the project last week. She also noted the differing levels of access to mental health services between rural and urban counties, and that providing services on a regional basis will reorganize the delivery of mental health services, according to the LaCrosse Tribune.
"The regional pilot is a really good thing for patients in the La Crosse region," said Ann Stekel, administrative director of behavioral health services at Gundersen Health System. "Collaborating and sharing resources across county lines is a step in the right direction toward broader mental health access in the region."
"Mayo has been a supporter of collaborative efforts to increase availability, access and quality of mental health services for individuals in our region. As we have worked with the counties in the consortium on past efforts, they have demonstrated their strong administrative capacity, leadership and commitment to providing greater access to mental health services for patients in a more efficient and effective way," said Betty Jorgenson, RN, MSN, administrator, Mayo Clinic Health System-Franciscan Healthcare. Jorgenson also served as past chair of the La Crosse Medical Health Science Consortium’s Population Health Committee, which has focused on increased community awareness and improved care for mental health patients. "As others have said, this could become a potential model throughout Wisconsin. "
Officials at the press conference also touted the cost savings of consolidating county public mental health services across a region of counties and the ability to reinvest those savings into better access to services.
"We will capitalize on community resources, not replace them, and expand without the need for additional tax levels," Matt Streittmater, manager of the La Crosse County Human Service Department’s mental health recovery programs told the La Crosse Tribune.
"We are really headed for new heights, with the administrative savings we will have and avoid duplication of services," said Monroe County Human Services Director Linda Lazer, according to the La Crosse Tribune article.
In addition to the La Crosse area pilot, Barron, Buffalo, Chippewa, Dunn, Eau Claire, Pepin and Pierce counties are also participating in a similar regional pilot for mental health services.
WHA has identified Wisconsin’s reliance on a county-based public mental health system as a root cause of inefficiencies, differing levels of access to care, and an inefficient distribution of preventive and emergency mental health services throughout Wisconsin. WHA has recommended to the Speaker’s Mental Health Task Force that Wisconsin accelerate efforts to develop a regional system for public mental health services. Those recommendations mirror recommendations made in WHA’s 2010 Behavioral Health White Paper and recommendations to the Wisconsin Legislative Council’s Special Committee on Emergency Detentions in 2010. Those recommendations can be found at: www.wha.org/mentalhealth.aspx.
Top of page (8/23/13)
Totals to the 2013 Wisconsin hospitals state political action funds fundraising campaign continue to climb. Surpassing the halfway mark raising an additional $15,000 from 38 more contributors including adding two more Platinum Club members in the last two weeks, the campaign has raised more than $143,000 from 207 individuals. This puts the 2013 campaign at 55 percent of the goal to raise $260,000 by year’s end.
Of the total contributors so far, 49 are members of the Platinum Club (PC) who have contributed $1,500 or more to the 2013 campaign, which is ahead of the 2011 and 2012 PC membership pace. The median contribution remains at $500, while the average contribution is $688.
While the 2013 campaign may be ahead of recent years in terms of PC membership, the campaign is behind 2012 in number of individual participants—down 54 contributors and $26,000 from last year’s record-breaking year.
All individual contributors are listed in The Valued Voice by name and affiliated organization on a regular basis. Thank you to the 2013 contributors listed below. Contributors are listed alphabetically by contribution amount category. The next publication of the contributor list will be in the September 6 issue of The Valued Voice. For more information, contact Jodi Bloch at 608-217-9508 or Jenny Boese at 608-274-1820.
|Contributors ranging from $1 to $499|
|Ambs, Kathleen||St. Mary's Janesville Hospital|
|Ashenhurst, Karla||Ministry Health Care|
|Bair, Barbara||St. Clare Hospital & Health Services|
|Baltzer, David||Memorial Medical Center - Neillsville|
|Bayer, Tom||St. Vincent Hospital|
|Bergmann, Ann||Spooner Health System|
|Bloom, Deborah||Sacred Heart Hospital|
|Boson, Ann||Ministry Saint Joseph's Hospital|
|Bowman, Andrew||Sacred Heart Hospital|
|Breeser, Bryan||Aurora Medical Center Summit|
|Brenholt, Craig||St. Joseph's Hospital|
|Brennan, Karen||St. Mary's Hospital|
|Brenny, Terrence||Stoughton Hospital Association|
|Brenton, Andrew||Wisconsin Hospital Association|
|Buss, Diane||St. Mary's Hospital|
|Calhoun, William||Mercy Medical Center|
|Capelli, A.J.||Aurora Health Care|
|Cardinal, Lori||Agnesian HealthCare|
|Casey, Candy||Columbia Center|
|Censky, Bill||Holy Family Memorial|
|Coniff, Barbara||St. Mary's Hospital Medical Center|
|Connors, Lawrence||St. Mary's Hospital Medical Center|
|Cormier, Laura||Bellin Hospital|
|Culotta, Jennifer||St. Clare Hospital & Health Services|
|Dahl, James||Fort HealthCare|
|Dalebroux, Steve||St. Mary's Hospital|
|Drengler, Kathryn||Aspirus Wausau Hospital|
|Dux, Larry||Froedtert Health - Community Memorial Hospital|
|Ferrigno, Sandra||St. Mary's Hospital|
|Fielding, Laura||Holy Family Memorial|
|Folstad, John||Sacred Heart Hospital|
|Furlong, Marian||Hudson Hospital & Clinics|
|Garvey, Gale||St. Mary's Hospital|
|Gille, Larry||St. Vincent Hospital|
|Granger, Lorna||Aurora Health Care|
|Guffey, Kerra||Meriter Hospital|
|Hafeman, Paula||St. Vincent Hospital|
|Halida, Cheryl||St. Joseph's Hospital|
|Hardy, Shawntera||Hudson Hospital & Clinics|
|Hieb, Laura||Bellin Hospital|
|Hockers, Sara||Holy Family Memorial|
|Hofer, John||Bay Area Medical Center|
|Jelle, Laura||St. Clare Hospital & Health Services|
|Jensema, Christine||HSHS-Eastern Wisconsin Division|
|Jensen, Russell||St. Mary's Hospital|
|Johnson, Charles||St. Mary's Hospital|
|Johnson, Kimberly||Sacred Heart Hospital|
|Josue, Sherry||St. Mary's Hospital|
|Karuschak, Michael||Amery Regional Medical Center|
|King, Steve||St. Mary's Hospital|
|Klay, Lois||St. Joseph's Hospital|
|Klein, Tim||Holy Family Memorial|
|Knutzen, Barbara||Agnesian HealthCare|
|Lange, George||Westgate Medical Group, CSMCP|
|Larson, William||St. Joseph's Hospital|
|Leonard, Mary Kay||St. Mary's Hospital|
|Lepien, Troy||St. Mary's Hospital|
|LuCore, Patricia||Sacred Heart Hospital|
|Martin, Nancy||Ministry Saint Michael's Hospital|
|Maurer, Mary||Holy Family Memorial|
|McManmon, Kristin||St. Mary's Hospital|
|Meicher, John||St. Mary's Hospital|
|Natzke, Kristin||Marshfield Clinic|
|Nguyen, Juliet||Sacred Heart Hospital|
|O'Hara, Tiffanie||Wisconsin Hospital Association|
|Oland, Charisse||Rusk County Memorial Hospital and Nursing Home|
|Olson, Bonnie||Sacred Heart Hospital|
|Ose, Peggy||Riverview Hospital Association|
|Ostrander, Gail||Hospital Sisters Health System|
|Ott, Virginia||St. Joseph's Hospital|
|Palecek, Steve||St. Joseph's Hospital|
|Pavelec-Marti, Cheryl||Ministry Saint Michael's Hospital|
|Penczykowski, James||St. Mary's Hospital|
|Pinske, Heather||St. Mary's Hospital|
|Reinke, Mary||Meriter Hospital|
|Rocheleau, John||Bellin Hospital|
|Roundy, Ann||Columbus Community Hospital|
|Schaetzl, Ron||St. Clare Hospital & Health Services|
|Schubring, Randy||Mayo Health System - Eau Claire|
|Sheehan, Heather||Hayward Area Memorial Hospital and Nursing Home|
|Statz, Darrell||Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative|
|Stelzer, Jason||St. Clare Hospital & Health Services|
|Swanson, Becky||Sacred Heart Hospital|
|Tandberg, Ann||St. Joseph's Hospital|
|Teigen, Seth||St. Mary's Hospital|
|Thornton, Eric||St. Mary's Janesville Hospital|
|Tuttle, Kathryn||Memorial Medical Center - Ashland|
|Walker, Troy||St. Clare Hospital & Health Services|
|Westrick, Paul||Columbia St. Mary's Columbia Hospital|
|Whitinger, Margaret||Agnesian HealthCare|
|Woleske, Chris||Bellin Psychiatric Center|
|Wolf, Edward||Lakeview Medical Center|
|Wymelenberg, Tracy||Aurora Health Care|
|Wysocki, Scott||St. Clare Hospital & Health Services|
|Yaron, Rachel||Ministry Saint Clare's Hospital|
|Contributors ranging from $500 to $999|
|Bablitch, Steve||Aurora Health Care|
|Bukowski, Cathy||Ministry Health Care|
|Carlson, Dan||Bay Area Medical Center|
|Deich, Faye||Sacred Heart Hospital|
|Dietsche, James||Bellin Hospital|
|Dolohanty, Naomi||Aurora Health Care|
|Dube, Troy||Chippewa Valley Hospital|
|Freimund, Rooney||Bay Area Medical Center|
|Hinner, William||Ministry Saint Clare's Hospital|
|Hyland, Carol||Agnesian HealthCare|
|Jacobson, Terry||St. Mary's Hospital of Superior|
|Johnson, Kenneth||St. Mary's Hospital Medical Center|
|Joyner, Ken||Bay Area Medical Center|
|Kellar, Richard||Aurora West Allis Medical Center|
|Krueger, Mary||Ministry Saint Clare's Hospital|
|Larson, Margaret||Mercy Medical Center|
|Lewis, Gordon||Burnett Medical Center|
|Mantei, Mary Jo||Bay Area Medical Center|
|May, Carol||Sauk Prairie Memorial Hospital|
|Mulder, Doris||Beloit Health System|
|Nelson, James||Fort HealthCare|
|Pollard, Dennis||Froedtert Health|
|Quinn, George||Wisconsin Hospital Association|
|Richards, Theresa||Ministry Saint Joseph's Hospital|
|Rickelman, Debbie||WHA Information Center|
|Rocole, Theresa||Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare|
|Rohrbach, Dan||Southwest Health Center|
|Russell, John||Columbus Community Hospital|
|Schafer, Michael||Spooner Health System|
|Selberg, Heidi||HSHS-Eastern Wisconsin Division|
|Shabino, Charles||Wisconsin Hospital Association|
|Simaras, James||Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare|
|Sommers, Craig||St. Mary's Hospital|
|Stuart, Philip||Tomah Memorial Hospital|
|Swanson, Kerry||St. Mary's Janesville Hospital|
|Thurmer, DeAnn||Waupun Memorial Hospital|
|Van Meeteren, Bob||Reedsburg Area Medical Center|
|Wolf, Edward||Lakeview Medical Center|
|VanCourt, Bernie||Bay Area Medical Center|
|Worrick, Gerald||Ministry Door County Medical Center|
|Zenk, Ann||Ministry Saint Mary's Hospital|
|Contributors ranging from $1,000 to $1,499|
|Britton, Gregory||Beloit Health System|
|Dexter, Donn||Mayo Health System - Eau Claire|
|Gullingsrud, Tim||Hayward Area Memorial Hospital and Nursing Home|
|Heifetz, Michael||SSM Health Care-Wisconsin|
|Huettl, Patricia||Holy Family Memorial|
|Hymans, Daniel||Memorial Medical Center - Ashland|
|Kerwin, George||Bellin Hospital|
|Kosanovich, John||Watertown Regional Medical Center|
|Lewis, Jonathan||St. Mary's Hospital|
|Martin, Jeff||Ministry Saint Michael's Hospital|
|McKevett, Timothy||Beloit Health System|
|Mohorek, Ronald||Ministry Health Care|
|Natzke, Ryan||Marshfield Clinic|
|Roller, Rachel||Aurora Health Care|
|Sanders, Robert||Children's Hospital of Wisconsin|
|Turkal, Nick||Aurora Health Care|
|Contributors ranging from $1,500 to $1,999|
|Alig, Joanne||Wisconsin Hospital Association|
|Anderson, Sandy||St. Clare Hospital & Health Services|
|Bloch, Jodi||Wisconsin Hospital Association|
|Boese, Jennifer||Wisconsin Hospital Association|
|Byrne, Frank||St. Mary's Hospital|
|Clapp, Nicole||Grant Regional Health Center|
|Coffman, Joan||St. Joseph's Hospital|
|Court, Kelly||Wisconsin Hospital Association|
|Eichman, Cynthia||Ministry Our Lady of Victory Hospital|
|Francis, Jeff||Ministry Health Care|
|Frank, Jennifer||Wisconsin Hospital Association|
|Geboy, Scott||Hall, Render, Killian, Heath & Lyman|
|Grasmick, Mary Kay||Wisconsin Hospital Association|
|Harding, Edward||Bay Area Medical Center|
|Hilt, Monica||Ministry Saint Mary's Hospital|
|Lepore, Michael||Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare|
|Levin, Jeremy||Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative|
|Meyer, Daniel||Aurora BayCare Medical Center in Green Bay|
|Millermaier, Edward||Bellin Hospital|
|Potter, Brian||Wisconsin Hospital Association|
|Sanders, Michael||Monroe Clinic|
|Sexton, William||Prairie du Chien Memorial Hospital|
|Stanford, Matthew||Wisconsin Hospital Association|
|Wallace, Michael||Fort HealthCare|
|Warmuth, Judith||Wisconsin Hospital Association|
|Contributors ranging from $2,000 to $2,999|
|Brenton, Mary E.|
|Desien, Nicholas||Ministry Health Care|
|Duncan, Robert||Children's Hospital of Wisconsin|
|Gage, Weldon||Children's Hospital of Wisconsin|
|Herzog, Mark||Holy Family Memorial|
|Jacobson, Catherine||Froedtert Health|
|Kachelski, Joe||Wisconsin Statewide Health Information Network|
|Kammer, Peter||The Kammer Group|
|Kief, Brian||Ministry Saint Joseph's Hospital|
|Leitch, Laura||Wisconsin Hospital Association|
|Little, Steve||Agnesian HealthCare|
|Mettner, Michelle||Children's Hospital of Wisconsin|
|Neufelder, Daniel||Affinity Health System|
|Normington, Jeremy||Moundview Memorial Hospital & Clinics|
|O'Brien, Kyle||Wisconsin Hospital Association|
|Oliverio, John||Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare|
|Pandl, Therese||HSHS-Eastern Wisconsin Division|
|Starmann-Harrison, Mary||Hospital Sisters Health System|
|Woodward, James||Meriter Hospital|
|Contributors ranging from $3,000 to $4,999|
|Borgerding, Eric||Wisconsin Hospital Association|
|Size, Tim||Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative|
|Contributors $5,000 and above|
|Brenton, Stephen||Wisconsin Hospital Association|
|Tyre, Scott||Capitol Navigators, Inc|
HHS Releases Training Content for Certified Application Counselors
Top of page (8/23/13)
On August 21, the federal government made available the content of the training modules for certified application counselors. These documents provide insight into what is included in the required training for those who want to provide exchange enrollment assistance. The content has now been posted on the CMS website for the health insurance exchange/marketplace at http://marketplace.cms.gov/training/get-training.html. This is a zip file with screen shots of each page of the required modules.
Top of page (8/23/13)
August 19, 2013
Honorable Members of the Wisconsin Congressional Delegation:
Sen. Ron Johnson
Sen. Tammy Baldwin
Rep. Paul Ryan
Rep. Mark Pocan
Rep. Ron Kind
Rep. Gwen Moore
Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr.
Rep. Thomas "Tom" Petri
Rep. Sean Duffy
Rep. Reid Ribble
Most of rural Wisconsin has never heard of the Office of the Inspector General in the federal Department of Health and Human Services. But that’s about to change! This obscure agency is proposing to gut Medicare’s funding of their local hospitals–those funded under the Critical Access Hospital (CAH) program. If implemented, its recommendations would destroy health care stability and access to care for Medicare beneficiaries in rural communities across America.
We deeply appreciate the initial support we have received from Wisconsin’s Congressional Delegation. We hope for a united push back against misrepresenting the current federal law as a "loop hole." To help wage this fight, a bit of history is in order.
The current Medicare system for paying hospitals, the Prospective Payment System (PPS) started in 1983. It was only tested in a handful of large tertiary hospitals in New England; subsequently, following the implementation of PPS, hundreds of rural hospitals closed across the country, including several in Wisconsin.
Over the next 15 years, many of us worked hard to reform the PPS to make it work equitably for rural hospitals. Many ideas were tested and failed. Finally, with strong bipartisan support, Congress passed the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 and with it, the program for Critical Access Hospitals. The program built on existing demonstrations for remote rural hospitals and adapted it for small, rural hospitals across the country.
Individual states were given the right to designate, through the establishment of federally approved state health plans, "necessary providers" eligible to receive Critical Access Hospital funding. The purpose was deliberative, the process public--not a loophole, not a bonus, not charity. It was Congress’s response to addressing a growing rural health crisis.
In 2003, Congress passed the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act. This law removed state designation of "necessary providers" in exchange for allowing CAHs to have the flexibility to staff up to 25 beds (compared to the previous limit of 15) and to increase reimbursement from 100 percent to 101 percent of reasonable costs. This agreement has defined Critical Access Hospitals, as we have known them for the last ten years.
Rural health is already doing more with less. Critical Access Hospitals are facing sequester cuts, bad debt reductions and simultaneously working to provide high quality, cost-efficient care to a poorer and frailer population. Case in point, according to a report issued last December by the federal Department of Health & Human Services’ National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services:
"The people served by rural hospitals are more likely to report a fair to poor health status, suffer from chronic diseases, lack health insurance, and be heavier, older, and poorer than residents of urban areas. Yet overall, the average cost per Medicare beneficiary is 3.7 percent lower in rural areas than in urban areas, and rural hospitals perform better than urban hospitals on three out of the four cost and price efficiency measures on Medicare Cost Reports."
As important as Medicare is to rural health, it is also critical to the financial stability of rural America. Rural hospitals are often one of, if not the largest, local employers, providing family-supporting wages throughout rural communities. A 2011 study by University of Wisconsin-Extension and the Wisconsin Hospital Association revealed that hospitals across the state generate $22 billion in economic activity and employ over 100,000 people. The same study found that hospitals were the top ten employers in 44 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties and the top five employers in 20 counties. In addition, rural insurance premiums and taxes only come back to circulate in the community and create jobs if there are local health care providers there to attract those dollars. The rural economy is extremely dependent on WHERE its health care dollars are spent.
We ask Congress to push back against misguided proposals that strike at the heart of rural health and work with us to keep local care and jobs local.
Stephen F. Brenton
President Executive Director
Wisconsin Hospital Association Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative
Top of page (8/23/13)
Register for WHA’s GME Statewide Conference
Are you in the process of evaluating or implementing GME at your organization?
Then you should consider attending WHA’s event focused exclusively on GME:
Taking the Next Step: A Statewide Conference on Graduate Medical Education
October 24, 2013***Best Western Bridgewood Resort Hotel, Neenah
Get more information and register today at: http://events.SignUp4.com/13GME
Top of page (8/23/13)
The Wisconsin Health Information Organization (WHIO) has developed a detailed strategy to report provider performance to the general public in an effort to advance WHIO’s mission. The vehicle for this public reporting initiative is a web portal, which is in its final stages of development.
WHA and the Wisconsin Medical Society are jointly sponsoring webinar opportunities for hospital and health system staff and physicians to learn more about the WHIO site-level physician group reporting website. There are six dates available for this one-hour webinar, which will include a demonstration of the public reporting website and ample opportunity for questions and discussion.
Tuesday, August 27, 7:00-8:00 am
Wednesday, August 28, 5:00-6:00 pm
Thursday, September 12, 12:00-1:00 pm
Tuesday, September 17, 5:00-6:00 pm
Wednesday, September 18, 7:00-8:00 am
Thursday, September 19, 12:00-1:00 pm
Registration is required to participate. Register at http://events.SignUp4.com/13WHIO. WHA encourages participation as the final reporting system may change based on input from providers and other stakeholders during these webinars and at other meetings.
Top of page (8/23/13)
Early identification of patients at risk of falling was one way that the patient care team at Gundersen St. Joseph’s Hospital and Clinics in Hillsboro helped lower their fall rate to a record low.
"Change begins at the bedside, and allowing the direct care staff to identify problems and take ownership for the solutions will result in a more sustainable change," according to Cheryl Vulstek, RN MSN, director of quality and education at Gundersen St. Joseph’s.
"The most effective way to drive rapid improvement and sustainability is to get the front line involved and engaged as early as possible, especially in such a patient-centered initiative as falls reduction," according to Tom Kaster, WHA quality improvement advisor. "Gundersen St. Joseph’s Hospital did just that, and as a result has sustained their excellent outcomes."
The team analyzed workflow, assessed equipment and studied processes that were in place to prevent falls. From there, they began to make "small tests of change" to support their goals. The data reports, displayed in a visual format when possible, helped illustrate and communicate with all staff the success of the falls prevention program.
The hospital also initiated an electronic incident reporting system that notifies managers and pertinent staff when there is a fall so the response is swift and automatic.
The hospital is raising public awareness of fall prevention in the community and will soon expand the program to include outpatient settings. In addition, the fall prevention activities were highlighted in the hospital’s annual report last spring.
The team at Gundersen St. Joseph’s focused on the following strategies and interventions as they worked to reduce falls:
"The toolkits supplied through the WHA Partners for Patients initiative have been instrumental in helping us stay organized and on-track with our efforts. Tools designed to track and organize small tests of change assisted us in moving forward without feeling overwhelmed by the workload," according to Vulstek. "We have learned more about the culture of safety and we have taken advantage of WHA’s ‘coaching calls’ and their ability to connect us with other hospitals so we can learn along with others who are also working on reducing falls."
Top of page (8/23/13)
Fear of a bill should never prevent a patient from seeking care at a Wisconsin hospital. Wisconsin hospital charity care programs provided $232 million to more than 700 patients each day last year. The stories that follow illustrate the deep commitment and continuing concern that hospitals have to their patients to ensure they receive the care they need regardless of their ability to pay.
Thankfully, she didn’t have to choose
Nikki, a single mom, was working as a certified nursing assistant and living without insurance. She wasn’t able to afford housing and health insurance, so she had to choose what was most important: providing for her son.
"Insurance through work was just too costly," said Nikki. Her son was covered by Badger Care.
Nikki unexpectedly became ill and was hospitalized at Mayo Clinic Health System - Red Cedar for a week. Following her hospitalization, she needed therapy through Behavioral Health at Mayo Clinic Health System in Menomonie.
She was struggling to make payments for her bills, so a staff member at Mayo Clinic Health System - Red Cedar called her to tell her about the Financial Assistance Program that the medical center offers. She submitted her application and qualified for a full discount.
"I was wondering how I was going to pay these bills. This way, it didn’t have to go through collections," she said with gratitude. "It was huge. It took a huge burden off of me. To pay the bills was to take money away from my son’s needs."
Nikki now has peace of mind as she is able to afford insurance coverage for her own medical needs.
Mayo Clinic Health System – Red Cedar, Menomonie
Financial assistance for Fort HealthCare patients
Concern over a medical bill should never prevent a patient from receiving good health care. Our goal is to arrange a manageable payment plan based on one’s ability to pay.
Fort HealthCare offers two financial aid options to patients who meet our income, asset and need criteria. They are the Self Pay Discount and the Community Care Program.
The Self Pay Discount is a discount of up to 20 percent on Fort Memorial Hospital’s inpatient and outpatient services. Potential Self Pay candidates are defined as those who have no health insurance and those receiving services that are not covered by health insurance or another state, government, liability or workers’ compensation program.
The Community Care program is a partial or complete write-off of all outstanding charges. The program serves patients requiring medically necessary treatment with no or limited ability to pay and whose income does not exceed current federal poverty guidelines. Also persons whose income exceeds current federal poverty guidelines, but whose expenses also exceed income are eligible. Community Care candidates are required to complete a financial questionnaire and provide proof of income.
Fort HealthCare, Fort Atkinson
Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare provides a home away from home
61-year-old Tahereh Samakar lived in Iran and occasionally traveled to visit her daughter in Wisconsin. On her trip in 2011, what Tahereh expected to be an ordinary visit took a serious turn when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Not only was Tahereh sick while abroad, but she also did not speak English and needed an interpreter.
"I had no idea that I had cancer when I left Iran. I was so shocked and I had no idea what to do," shared Tahereh.
Although she was far from home, Tahereh knew she needed to move quickly and had a right breast ultrasound-guided needle core biopsy at Wheaton Franciscan - St. Francis.
When Tahereh needed more surgeries, she worried about how a visitor without health insurance would handle the costs. That is when her doctors introduced her to Donna Semons, a financial counselor with Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare. With Donna’s help, Tahereh applied to Wheaton’s Community Care program and was approved to receive free care.
"I was so surprised and happy," said Tahereh. "Everyone treated me like I was an ordinary person who had health insurance. I am really grateful."
While Tahereh received treatment at several Wheaton Franciscan campuses, she has daily radiation at the Elmbrook Memorial Campus. Tahereh will be extending her visa so she can finish her treatments before going home. Though Tahereh is eager to return to Iran, she said Wheaton has helped her more than ever in her time of need.
Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare St. Francis, Milwaukee/Elmbrook, Brookfield
Submit community benefit stories to Mary Kay Grasmick, editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more about hospitals connecting with their communities at www.WiServePoint.org.
Top of page (8/23/13)