Teton County Commission Chairman Bill Leake, right, accepts a check from Teton Valley Health Care, Inc. Board Chair Bob Benedict during a county commission meeting in January 2015.
During a regular meeting of the Board of County Commissioners Monday, Jan. 26, Teton Valley Health Care leaders presented a check for $19,537 for the county coffers. The payment comes as part of a lease agreement of the hospital facilities between the county and TVHC, Inc. and represents 5 percent of TVHC’s net operating profit for fiscal year 2014, which ended Sept. 30, 2014.
Commissioner Kelly Park noted the significance of the moment by reflecting that several years ago, our county was “at risk of losing our community hospital” due to serious financial challenges.
The irony of the situation was not lost on Bob Benedict who currently serves as Chair for the TVHC Board of Directors. Bob was a County Commissioner during the hospital crisis when the BOCC took over the governance of the facility and supervised the subsequent restructuring of hospital administration and the business model. Over two years ago, TVHC moved from a county-owned business to a private nonprofit healthcare organization, effectively protecting the county from hospital financial liabilities and removing the burden of tax support from residents.
Bob expressed gratitude for Teton County taxpayers who helped pass two supplemental levies in 2008 and 2010 to boost TVHC out of near bankruptcy, saying that TVHC has survived due to community support.
CEO Keith Gnagey provided updates on other contractual terms including the annual lease payment of $70,000 and an agreement that TVHC maintain and improve the county-owned plant each year by investing in repairs and new equipment. The amount required per that equation in FY 2014 was $416,149.25. Year-end audited financials showed that TVHC made over $751,000 in improvements or 180 percent of the requirement.
“It was absolutely my pleasure to give this check to our county and to have the opportunity to thank our taxpayers and everyone who worked so hard to make this possible,” said Bob Benedict after the BOCC meeting.
“Every year presents new challenges for rural hospitals, both anticipated and unanticipated,” adds Gnagey. “We hope that we’re in a position next year to again present a check to Teton County.”
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.