This is not your average healthcare CEO article. I won’t trot out numbers, stats and confusing lingo. I’ll only use the word “metrics” once, and instead of looking back, I’m going to tell you what Teton Valley Health Care plans to accomplish in 2015 as we work toward becoming the one of the best rural hospitals in the U.S.
In 2015, you can look forward to online access to your medical records, treatment plans and prescriptions through the implementation of our new patient portal. Through this portal, you’ll also be able to tell us how you’d prefer to receive messages, when you need prescription refills and reminders for follow-up care. Online payments and a review of your prior bills will also be available.
We’ll respond to your needs by adding services that make sense for our community. Currently, we can all benefit from 24/7 consultations with University of Utah Health Center stroke and burn specialists through our portable telemedicine robot. In the New Year, we’ll add tele-adolescent psychiatry and hopefully tele-oncology. We also want to add new clinic service lines, such as dermatology.
You’ll see interior changes in our clinics and hospital as we continue to press ahead with our design goal to reflect a healing environment for our patients, their families and friends. Changes will include a more natural design theme and room renovations that will make navigation easier for patients and providers.
We’re also determined to provide more services at a “one-price-covers-all” cost. This is difficult for hospitals because everybody is physically different and many times when a surgeon or physician has begun a procedure, other issues are discovered that need to be taken care of. For now, you can check out our new bundled pricing for colonoscopies and upper GI screenings at tvhcare.org. We’ll add more of this type of pricing throughout 2015.
Similar to the saying that good things come in small packages, I believe that Teton Valley is fortunate to have a small hospital that offers impressive medical and nursing staff, round-the-clock emergency care, a menu of carefully selected services and technology that rivals or exceeds the capabilities available at some larger hospitals. After giving numerous tours of our facility to outside hospital leaders, specialists and providers from large healthcare organizations, I’ve learned to anticipate their expressions of surprise and some envy when they see – for example – our X-ray and surgical suites, laboratory equipment and digital mammography room.
What services, changes and improvements do you want to see at your community hospital? Let us know by calling me at 354-6355, email firstname.lastname@example.org or comment on our Facebook page. TVHC tweets, pins, FBs and blogs, too, in an effort to continually offer access and information for everyone. We invite you to be a part of moving TVHC from better to the very best.
The three-pronged media surge about enterovirus D68 (EV-D68), influenza and Ebola has heightened awareness about the presence of infectious diseases and the methods of preventing the spread of those infections. Information is a good thing. Of course, becoming a victim of any of the three would not be a good thing.
Whether you believe the dangers of these viruses are overhyped or not, you should know that locally, Teton Valley Health Care stays current with global and national health concerns and makes every effort to share up-to-date treatment and prevention recommendations with our community and our staff.
Training for all employees who could have contact with a potential Ebola patient has already begun. In virtually every way, our clinical personnel know and follow preventive measures as part of their regular routine. With a deadly infection like Ebola, extra care must be taken in terms of information gathering, hazardous material disposal and decontamination. In the unlikely event that TVHC would have contact with an Ebola patient, we would certainly render initial care and then follow protocols to transfer the patient to an appropriate facility.
Rural hospitals and clinics such as ours are not immune to the health issues of our world. Although we may not have to worry about an onslaught of guinea worm, we do need to be prepared for diseases that have the ability to travel to and spread among our population, in addition to the contagious illnesses that sprout from within our community such as giardiasis, influenza, and chicken pox. The unfortunate resurgence of some childhood diseases such as pertussis and German measles are also potentially deadly illnesses for which we must be prepared.
As a community, we should take every viable opportunity to defend ourselves against diseases. This includes becoming informed from reliable sources, getting proven vaccinations and following the basics: wash your hands often and thoroughly, cover your coughs and sneezes, and stay home if you’re sick.
At Teton Valley Hospital, we have a visitor restriction policy in place. At both clinics and our hospital, face masks and hand-cleansing stations are posted at each entryway. We’ve increased the number of facility cleanings and our admissions employees clean their patient area stations after encounters.
We continue to offer free pulse-oximetry tests for anyone who is concerned they – or their children – may have EV-D68. Flu shots are available for $25 although most insurances do cover flu and other vaccinations.
If you need vaccinations or medical treatment but can’t afford it, please contact our financial counselor at (208) 354-6331 about our financial assistance plans and charitable care availability. Whether or not you choose to have medical services at our clinics or hospital, we can also help you understand your health insurance policy so you get the full benefits of your coverage.
I’m approaching my two year anniversary with the hospital and the hospital just passed its 75th year anniversary. This is the perfect time to share the latest news about our hospital and clinics and talk about some of the changes we have seen.
It’s been a busy two years, with a lot of positive growth and change. For those of you who have visited recently, you will have seen a number of physical changes. We have a new X-ray unit and fluoroscope along with a completely remodeled X-ray room. Our lab draw room has a new adjustable draw chair (courtesy of the Teton Springs Foundation) plus new paint and cabinets. We have repainted and re-furnished the Driggs Health Clinic waiting area. Our Victor clinic has a new ramp. The exterior of the hospital has been spruced up with plants and mulch to replace the gravel. The OR will be painted this weekend.
There are some less visible changes as well; a new ice machine for patients, a pharmacy hood allowing us to support chemotherapy, a new OR bed, and new OR lights. These are not just cosmetic changes; these are investments in your County-owned building. We continue to maintain and improve the hospital, extending its life and making it a more valuable asset for you. Thank you to our Hospital Foundation, multiple charitable groups, the TVHC employees, and others for helping to fund these items.
We’ve added new service lines for cardiology, expanded pain management, general surgery, orthopedics, and neurology. More and expanded offerings are coming this year. Telemedicine is in use; we have been supporting tele-psychiatry, and we just added tele-burn and tele-stroke. These telemedicine additions enable patients to stay here and get care from experts who are based at the University of Utah Health Center and other larger hospitals. We’ve built good working relationships and formal affiliations with UUHC, and with our regional hospitals that enable better pricing on things we buy (by buying jointly), expand the service lines we offer, and improve clinical quality.
We’re focused on our clients and patients. We have required all staff to take training on how to improve their customer service skills. The painting and improvements have been chosen carefully to reflect a standardized design and color palette to offer an atmosphere that is soothing and healing. We’ve achieved a higher, measurable level of accuracy and speed in our patient billing. Your comments and suggestions have generated a number of these process improvements.
We continue to help people understand how to get insurance under the Affordable Care Act and enrolled over 129 families in health insurance. We have increased our outreach to the Hispanic community by employing more bilingual staff and offering awareness programs and materials that focus on their needs. We’re also reaching out proactively to our community with a Community Paramedic Program, providing preventive care to patients in their homes. We are working with Fire on this program to maximize the use of local resources. We’ve also announced to the Ambulance Service District that we would jointly bid with Fire for the next contract to provide ambulance service in the county. By working together we can maximize our training and capabilities, while not increasing our cost to the taxpayer.
Many people were worried when hospital leaders and the Board of County Commissioners agreed to convert the hospital from a county operation to a private non-profit. As we have demonstrated, we have kept the doors open, increased the services we provide, continued to invest and improve in the building that the county still owns. We publish operational statistics and community reports on our website for public review. Our IRS-990 (think of that as the 1040 tax form that a non-profit files) is now complete and will be posted on our website. On that form, you’ll see a list of TVHC’s charitable expenditures that have been made on behalf of our community.
Teton Valley Hospital first opened its doors May 7th 1939. Seventy-five years later, we have a terrific facility, great staff and a strong, supportive community.
Thank you for continuing to show the spirit that built TVHC so many years ago. As always, we welcome comments and suggestions. Please reach out to me at email@example.com or 208-354-6355.