MOUNT GILEAD — The Morrow County Health Initiative Advisory group (MC-HIC) is asking Morrow County residents to respond to their survey on healthcare in Morrow County.
It is a short survey and asks such questions as: where you get your healthcare, your satisfaction with your healthcare, what healthcare needs are not being met and what are barriers to healthcare in Morrow County?
Advisory group members agree that the survey answers can be an important part of their considerations as they make a report to the county commissioners and hospital board.
The link to the survey is: https://forms.gle/ECmZvS9feN5RiU7k8. Response can be made by clicking on the link. Return is requested by April 7, 2021.
The Advisory group heard Morrow County Hospital (MCH) CEO Chad “CJ” Miller and OhioHealth Senior Vice President Cheryl Herbert answer their questions at the March 22 meeting.
Miller began with national challenges that are impacting healthcare in Morrow County. They include the opioid epidemic, cyber security, the Covid-19 pandemic, and violence that causes stress.
Market forces and trends Miller listed are: the focus from inpatient to outpatient care, the need to invest in information technology, a shift from employer pay for healthcare to employee pay, and a big shift from private payer/insurance to a dependency on government pay from Medicare and Medicaid.
Miller, a physical therapist, described the change he observed personally when in past years patients stayed in the hospital five days after a knee or orthopedic surgery. Now most of those surgeries are outpatient with people going home the same day.
Medicaid and Medicare payments now make up 65 percent of MCH compensation with 30 percent from commercial payers/insurance and the rest from other or self-pay.
A local challenge is the county’s geography that makes nearby hospitals a relatively easy drive. The demographics of the rural community are challenging with health problems of diabetes, obesity, heart ailments and aging population.
More physicians and physician assistants are needed for primary care and behavioral health.
An aging infrastructure is a major challenge with MCH in its 70th year, as well as needed access to capital.
Strategies to meet
• Always maintain high quality care as a primary goal
• Keep operational excellence with balanced expense management and cash management
• Focus on growth of outpatient services and surgery for services that are supported by the community.
• MCH can be improved with more use by the community and physician recruitment
Jennifer Williams asked about how to turn around the trend of loss of employees.
Miller said the most recent loss of employees is through retirement, management and some loss with the sleep lab closing. He said that many of the full-time employees are now contracted in pharmacy, physical therapy and other departments. He estimated that the number of full-time employees is close to 180 when you figure contracted employees.
The benchmark for critical access hospitals is 188 full-time employees.
Loren Altizer said another concern is the low 16 percent of market share for inpatient services. Miller said this year is an exception with the pandemic; the usual inpatient percent is 20 percent. He added that 95 percent of their business is from outpatient care.
Altizer noted that people are concerned about their jobs and the uncertainty at the hospital.
Miller agreed that the uncertainty has to get better.
“We have got to work together. …” Miller said. “The divisiveness the last couple years is hurting our people and confusing our patients.”
The next meeting of MC-HIC is Monday, March 29 at 6:30 p.m. The link to the meeting by Zoom is on the Morrow County Hospital website.