By Megan Alley
Business leaders from across the county gathered the morning of June 16 at Holiday Inn & Suites Cincinnati East to hear the new president of Clermont County’s only hospital, Mercy Health Clermont Hospital, give his presentation on the state of the hospital.
During his presentation, Ken James spoke about new trends facing the hospital today and efforts to improve access to care and expand critically needed services in Clermont County, including outpatient surgery, behavioral health and addiction treatment.
James also discussed ways that the hospital is working to create an environment where employees “want to work, physicians want to practice and patients want to receive care.”
“My objectives for today are simply stated but encompass a lot of material. My very first objective that I have is for all of you to leave with a better understanding of Mercy Health Clermont as a ministry, as a health care provider, and as a business,” James said in his opening. “My second objective is that you would leave here as better informed ambassadors for your hospital.”
Highlights of the presentation included:
– Mercy Health Clermont Hospital is the third largest employer in the county; the 130-bed facility employees 873 people.
– The hospital provides treatment in the areas of behavioral health, primary care, oncology, cardiology, vascular, gastroenterology, urology, general surgery, pulmonology-critical care, lung specialists, interventional radiology, orthopedics-sports medicine, otolaryngology, palliative care, diabetes care, wound care and women’s health.
– Recently, nine medical and five primary care specialists were recruited to the local hospital system.
– In 2016, the hospital admitted 7,258 patients, performed 8,551 surgeries, and had 36,481 patient visits to its Clermont County emergency department and 20,686 patient visits to its Mt.Orab emergency department.
“All those are numbers exceed the prior year’s numbers,” James said, adding, “Historically … the ER was our Achilles heal, but that’s no longer the case. We’ve got new leadership, new managers, a new medical director … we’re making great strides to deliver the level of care that you deserve in this community.”
-The hospital puts forth $36.2 million dollars a year in salaries and wages.
– The hospital takes on $3.9 million dollars a year in uncompensated care, representing 45,728 visits.
– A number of recent capital improvements have been made, including $900,000 in infrastructure improvements, $460,000 for a radiology/fluoroscopy room, $370,000 for moving radiology/diagnostics to a digital format, $250,000 in CT upgrades at Clermont and Mt.Orab, $125,000 for a new outpatient retail pharmacy and $1.1 million dollars in miscellaneous equipment.
– Challenges that the hospital faces include area health metrics, reimbursement reductions, high deductible health plans, increased competition and the loss of the Affordable Care Act and the threat to Medicaid expansion.
“Regardless of what side of the aisle you sit on, let me share a little bit about the ACA … probably this time next year, we won’t have that Medicaid expansion. Let me tell you what that means to Ohio, and specifically Cincinnati,” James said. “That 3.9 million dollars a year in uncompensated care could double. And while our ministry, and our focus is to take care of everybody regardless of their ability to pay, if we continue to keep that trend going, we’re not going to be able to do that. We’ll lose our ability to continue to do the ministry if we can’t stay viable as a business from a financial standpoint.”
He added, “The ACA is not another entitlement program. It’s actually a program for what we call the working poor.”
– Strategic initiatives for the hospital were listed as what James called, “amazing patient care, operational excellence and creating the future,” which includes building strategic partnerships, collaborating on efforts of the opiate task force, expanding the robotics program, providing geriatric psychiatry and expanding cardiology, radiology and orthopedic services as well as satellite clinics.
“We provide a service every day that’s highly needed, but not wanted. And, we charge a nice premium for the service on top of it,” James said in his closing. “So, that’s what differentiates us from pretty much any other service; nobody goes out today saying ‘I can’t wait to get to the hospital…I can’t wait to get to the ER.’”
James then went on to open up the discussion with a Q&A session. During his responses, he noted healthcare has changed more in the past five years than in the previous 15 years, the most challenging thing is for the hospital to remain financially viable and the most exciting things are advancements in technology.