PMC & HPCHC Focus on Joint Medical Services for the Community


PMC & HPCHC Board Members

PMC & HPCHC Board Members

Hosting joint community health fairs and developing programs to inform the public about economic and health insurance impacts from the pending Affordable Care Act, were two ideas discussed by board members from Prowers Medical Center and High Plains Community Health Center.  The joint board meeting held this past Tuesday, July 16, was a follow-up to an earlier, similar meeting during which both health care providers discussed activities for potential collaboration. 

Four members from each board, as well as directors, health care providers and interested citizens attended the evening meeting, held at the Lamar Community Building.  Ray Matteson, James Farmer, Jean Lunt and Judy Turpin represented the High Plains Clinic, with Candy Ruedeman, Kevin McGrath, Julie Branes and Ron Farmer from the PMC board of directors, participating.  James Farmer stated early in the meeting that both entities share a common element that has been a mainstay, “ provide quality and affordable health care for our patients.”  PMC board chair, Candy Ruedeman added that this and subsequent meetings will provide clarity for combined projects as well as new opportunities for communication between the Center and the Clinic. 

The idea of combining efforts and resources for a community health fair at the Lamar Community Building offered some advantages including additional parking space, a centralized testing area and an opportunity to provide health oriented information kiosks at the site.  Finding a suitable date for holding two events a year will be resolved in future meetings between organizers and volunteer board members.  High Plains has held theirs in April and traditionally, PMC has held theirs in May during National Hospital Month. 

The ability to share health care records between both groups was discussed at length, in light of future mandated electronic medical record keeping, an expected increase in Medicaid qualified patients and medical information sharing for those patients who may be served both by PMC and HPCHC.  Some information gaps for some patients was briefly highlighted during the discussion and from that, both providers will explore those functions and take steps to increase shared data.  One idea suggested was an information pre-release form which authorized a patient’s records to be sent from one provider to another and increasing computer access to a patient’s records in an emergency room. 

How the Affordable Care Act will impact the residents of the community and PMC and HPCHC rounded out the rest of the evening’s discussion.  Suggestions for a media information campaign was discussed, public service announcements specific to certain medical needs was recommended, the financial costs for insurance and employers was discussed as well as the ability to increase a general patient base through additional specialty providers.  High Plains executive director, Jay Brooke explained his clinic is hiring six ‘guides’ who will assist a potential of 3,000 new Medicaid recipients through the sign-up process in Prowers, Bent and Kiowa Counties,  in light of ACA requirements.   A marketing campaign to keep patients informed about the local medical services available as opposed to traveling out of town was discussed as well.  PMC Chief Operating Officer, Craig Loveless said, as one example, patients should be informed that although they may have a procedure conducted in Denver, they can still elect to have their lab work done in Lamar.  Both High Plains and Prowers Medical Center urged the public to attend the open board of director meetings to stay informed about local health care options and developments in their community.

By Russ Baldwin

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