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‘We are on a roll’

CEO touts financial, patient achievements at UnityPoint

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
UnityPoint - Trinity Regional Medical Center same day surgery RN Christine O’Brien carries her chili and cinnamon rolls down the corridor during On a Roll day. The celebration, which included the chili lunch an colorful socks, was a part of a spirit week to recognize the staff reaching several patient care and financial goals.

There’s reason for optimism at UnityPoint Health — Trinity Regional Medical Center, according to the hospital’s president and CEO, Leah Glasgo.

Glasgo said the hospital’s bottom line is $9 million above where it was a year ago during this time.

“We are $9 million better than this time last year,” she said. “That improvement has been big.”

According to Glasgo, $6 million of the $9 million difference is a result of the hospital’s participation in the provider-based Rural Health Clinic program.

The hospital is eligible because of the number of Medicaid and Medicare patients it cares for.

Glasgo said any place where the hospital has family practice clinics, a cost report is submitted through a government-run program.

Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services oversees the program.

The hospital is then paid the difference between the normal fee and the cost for the hospital to care for its population.

The other $3 million saved is the result of expense reduction, Glasgo said.

One example is when UnityPoint ended its MD anesthesiology coverage earlier this year.

She said that results in a $1.7 million annual savings.

Productivity standards and expense reduction in medical supplies are other reasons for the savings, according to Glasgo.

Glasgo said one position at the hospital was eliminated in recent months, while she said other open positions may not be filled.

In 2018, the Fort Dodge hospital ended the year with a $6.8 million deficit. Glasgo said she’s confident that at the end of 2019, the hospital will have a positive margin.

“We are confident we will make it to the end of the year with a positive margin,” Glasgo said. “And we will also beat budget this year. The last time was five years ago.”

But the hospital is trending in the right direction from more than just a financial perspective.

Glasgo said patient experience scores have improved.

And more specifically, Glasgo said for the past 20-plus weeks, the hospital has scored as the cleanliest in the UnityPoint system.

Trinity Regional Medical Center is scored through the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems, which is a patient satisfaction survey required by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Alyssa Stanek, the hospital’s senior marketing communications specialist, said leadership has made a difference in the hospital’s improvements.

“We have been working on a lot of good things since Leah has gotten here,” Stanek said. “She has helped to drive us in the right direction.”

To celebrate its progress, the hospital recently held what it called Spirit Week, where each day of the week staff participated in a fun activity.

“We did fun sock day, super hero day — we celebrated UnityPoint blue,” Glasgo said. “Wednesday (Sept. 25) we did ‘we are on a roll,’ and celebrated with chili and cinnamon rolls. Our theme for the week is, ‘we are on a roll.’ We feel like we are moving in a lot of positive directions. It was a chance to take a breath and be grateful for the people we get to serve and our employees.”

Within the past six months, UnityPoint — TRM has been the recipient of three national awards for cardiology care, stroke care and wound care, Glasgo reported.

“We have outside entities looking at our quality of care and how we are doing,” Glasgo said. “We received these awards for our excellence in care delivery.”

One major change within the UnityPoint Health system is the merger with Sanford Health, headquartered in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

That partnership was announced in June.

The transaction between the two health care giants is subject to various regulatory reviews, but could be finalized by the end of 2019.

Glasgo said any noticeable changes as a result of the newly formed partnership may not be visible for some time.

“For our organization, it’s business as usual,” Glasgo said. “We are laying out our vision of a potential partnership and that includes negotiating terms of the relationship.”

Glasgo didn’t have any further information to provide on the merger.

But she anticipates the hospital having a presence in Fort Dodge for years to come.

“I am really proud of the teams’ work around creating a more sustainable future for UnityPoint — Fort Dodge,” Glasgo said. “Our plan is to be here for 50 years and 100 years to come. We have made great strides in getting where we want to be.”

Another major change in recent months was the addition of the Family Practice Kenyon Road Walk-In Clinic, otherwise known as Urgent Care.

Urgent Care was moved from the back of the hospital to the front.

That allowed the hospital to apply the reimbursement strategies of the rural health care clinic, which has helped the hospital become more efficient financially.

Glasgo considers the move to be a success.

“We have been extremely busy in our Walk-In,” Glasgo said. “The transition has gone well. We feel like we have successfully rerouted patients. We will continue to evaluate the community need to see what other providers to add to make it a great place to receive care. They have been very busy.”

According to Stanek, Walk-In Care has been seeing between 45-55 patients on an average day. She anticipates more patients being served during flu season.

The hospital is working with outside organizations to further improve its care.

One company in particular is called Advisory Board, headquartered in Washington, D.C.

“We are working with them to identify areas of growth in our organization,” Glasgo said. “We will invest in those service lines to meet the needs of our community.”

She added, “We have invested in orthopedics and OB, we are working on creating an environment to meet the needs of all of our women and children in the community. We are investing on obstetrics and our surgical services line.”

The hospital is working with Erdman, headquartered in Madison, Wisconsin, to analyze the hospital’s infrastructure.

“That is looking at our facilities and helping us determine how to create ways to make our facilities more efficient,” Glasgo said.

And the hospital is also working with Chicago-based Kaufman Hall on its financial future.

“That is the financial road map for our five and 10 year plan,” Glasgo said. “What we need to invest in our facilities, how to keep the organization going forward.”

Glasgo said that firm should have recommendations to offer in January.

She said the hospital is focused on meeting and exceeding expectations.

“We believe Fort Dodge deserves a partner you can trust,” Glasgo said. “We are working from the inside out. We are working hard to exceed our patients’ expectations. We know we aren’t perfect at it, but we believe we are making it a better place to come and receive your health care.”