Lindsborg Community Hospital and Salina Regional Health Center discuss affiliation

By Betty Nelson, Director of Marketing & Development

bettyn@lindsborghospital.org

785-227-3308 x237

November 2, 2011

At a recent Kansas Hospital Association meeting Larry Van Der Wege, CEO of Lindsborg Community Hospital and Lindsborg Rural Health Clinic, heard the looming promise of additional across the board Medicare cuts as the Federal government works to reduce the deficit. Van Der Wege is in good company; all across the country, hospital administrators have reason to be concerned. But the CEO returned to Lindsborg having heard what was predicted, confidant Lindsborg Community Hospital is on the right path.

The path is one being carefully evaluated by the administrative team and the boards of directors and experts within the healthcare industry. With the unanimous support of the Lindsborg Community Hospital and Lindsborg Rural Health Clinic boards, LCH/LRHC is discussing the advantages of an affiliation with Salina Regional Health Center.

Salina Regional Health Center and Lindsborg Community Hospital and Rural Health Clinic are the primary providers for the Lindsborg-Smoky Valley area. By aligning those organizations, better services can be offered to the people of the Smoky Valley communities.

Over the next several months, both facilities will be working together and reviewing options of how this alignment might look. Being examined is functionality, while focusing completely on the benefit to the patients. After that review, a structure of the alignment will be designed.

"We are excited about the opportunity to work together to increase and improve health care services to patients and families in the Salina and Lindsborg areas well into the future, said Micheal Terry, CEO for Salina Regional Health Center.

Why consider an affiliation?

Affiliations are nothing new for small rural hospitals, and LCH is no exception. Prior to becoming a member of the Sunflower Health Network, LCH was affiliated with Great Plains Health Alliance, which provided management and financial tools, purchasing power, insurance and benefit plans. Current affiliations include the decades-long relationships with United Radiology Group and WPM Laboratory, both of Salina.

Specialty physicians and surgeons from Salina, McPherson, Hutchinson, Newton and Wichita have affiliated with LCH/LRHC for more than thirty years in order to extend additional services and conveniences to local patients. Last year RehabVisions began providing staff and services for physical and occupational therapy, an affiliation that kept existing staff members, but has expanded staff when needed. JourneyMed, an independent, physician-owned service provides physicians for weekend emergency room coverage and very soon, a weekend urgent care clinic.

But bigger remaining concerns are the financial challenges: dealing with lower reimbursement from federal and commercial insurers combined with the staggering cost of medical equipment and technology.

In just the last three years, approximately $350,000 has been committed to health information technology, yet more technology is still required to meet federal mandates for reimbursement. Faced with the need to improve mammography services, expending $350,000 to acquire digital mammography didn't make sense, but providing those services with a mobile unit supplied by United Radiology did. The acquisition of a new 16 slice CT is a valuable diagnostic tool, but doesn't come without making a five year commitment for a six figure price tag.

Why now?

It is fair to say that as a small rural hospital located just thirty minutes south of Salina Regional Health Center, Lindsborg Community Hospital is an attractive partner. LCH is financially solid with a history of good management practices, a relatively new building, hospital staff with a vibrant, committed staff, investment reserves and strong community support.

"We are blessed to be a strong organization, able to look ahead to determine what is the best strategic alignment for our patients, communities and organization", states Van Der Wege. "Given the fact that a majority of patients in our service area choose SRHC for tertiary care, it makes sense to explore increasing our partnership with SRHC to further increase clinical and operational efficiencies and effectiveness. The months ahead will be exciting as we work to determine the best mode of alignment to gain the benefits we want for our patients and organization to position ourselves to be successful in providing healthcare for years to come."