Prowers Medical Center provides about $2.5 million in Charity Care to the surrounding community each year according to CEO Craig Loveless. The hospital executive was discussing some end-of-year statistics on PMC’s activities to the Prowers County Commissioners recently. “We’ve seen improvements as our Charity Care went from 14.5% four years ago, down to 4.5% as of this year,” he stated. In answer to a question from Commissioner Wendy Buxton-Andrade, Loveless stated that although with recent national health care reforms having been enacted, the figure will never go down to zero, adding that some people just aren’t buying into the Affordable Care program. He explained that most subscribers opt for the ‘Bronze’ level coverage which offers lower premiums with a higher deductible plan. “A recent state review of our charity care program says the hospital’s plan for indigent care was good, but statewide there are still gaps that need to be filled,” he explained.
The number of patient visits the past year showed increases in the Emergency Room care and in surgeries, but there was a decline in outpatient visits in 2015. “We noted a 20% jump in the ER at 6,091 for this past year, compared to 5,400 the year before,” he said. Loveless said surgeries increased to 720, about 60 a month which is up from several years ago when the hospital logged from 25-30 a month, at most. He attributed the increase to visiting specialists who are able to perform their surgeries locally, such as ears, nose and throat as well as some eye surgery increases. He said the outpatient numbers were down, but that was referenced through a drop in the number of available medical providers. Despite that, appointment schedules remain full and the hospital is addressing that situation.
The operating room suite is now operational and the emergency room department will be up and running before the end of January. “Walls are starting to go up in the gymnasium in the rehabilitation room and the two bay garage for ambulance arrivals will also improve patient care, whether a delivery is made in rain or snow, or even on a windy day in the summer,” he explained. Loveless said heavy spring and summer rains last year pushed back the completion date for the construction by 30 to 45 days which put their plans in a crunch mode, but he expects the grand opening to be held later this spring.
Loveless added he has met with the new executive director for High Plains Community Health Center, Eric Niemeyer and both medical facilities are planning a joint board of director’s meeting in the near future to focus on local health issues.
By Russ Baldwin
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