Steve Whited, CEO Minnie Hamilton Health System

The complex world of health care continues to become more and more challenging. Among the complexity of managing multiple insurance companies, patient payments, privacy rules, and the ever changing accounting regulations, not to mention the endless governmental regulation changes, Minnie Hamilton Health System (MHHS) must continually review our operations.

In these reviews, we look for ways to maintain and improve access of services for our patients and communities while ensuring financially responsible decisions are made for our employees, our patients, and our organization as a whole. A review of both the 2014 and 2015 financials of the MHHS, including the cost/revenue comparisons of our EMS services, presented us with a challenge that required immediate action.

The annual dollars being lost as a result of the EMS services operating within the MHHS organization is being measured in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

This is not a result of mismanagement or poor operational execution by our current EMS staff, but rather it stems from the accounting practices MHHS is required to follow as a Critical Access Hospital and Federally Qualified Health Center.

It is important to note, that the aforementioned changes and regulations have steadily caused and led to the losses mentioned, this was not seen immediately when MHHS took over the EMS services for Calhoun County in May 2013. However, now recognized, it must be addressed.

As a result of the review, an effort was initiated to find an alternative solution with a goal of maintaining, at a minimum, the same level of quality and response times experienced through the EMS services currently provided by the EMS staff employed by MHHS.

The effort resulted in two possible solutions being identified that would allow this to be achieved. The first, a separate EMS Service "entity" would be established and owned as a MHHS company, one that would operate independently of the MHHS organization and would simply pay an agreed upon, reasonable fee for services such as benefits administration, payroll administration, billing services, and other business related task to MHHS.

The second, the EMS Service for our communities would be subleased to a reputable company that specializes in EMS Services. The first solution was the preferred option and was pursued diligently. We worked with our accounting firm, sought recommendations from legal counsel as well as with the governing agencies of our organization specific designations to identify what steps could be taken to make this change a possibility.

After several weeks of communication and research, it was determined this was not a viable solution to address the financial losses while meeting the EMS needs of our communities.

We have since focused our efforts on researching and discussing the opportunities that may exist by subleasing the EMS services for our service area. After an initial meeting with a prospective EMS company, we requested to be added to the agenda of the Calhoun County Commission meeting on Monday, September 12, 2016.

During the meeting, the subleasing of EMS services was discussed at length with the Commission, including but not limited to concerns and expectations regarding the possible change.

MHHS will continue to work diligently on this effort to ensure that our community members will be fully protected and EMS services will continue. We are proud of the continued efforts of our EMS crews who have faithfully served our communities for many years.

We are dedicated to keeping their needs high on the list of important items that need to be considered and addressed through this process.

We feel our current staff, the community, and all involved have a right to know and be a part of the proposed changes as they are defined.

We want the EMS services provided to our communities to be the best they can possibly be, as we fully depend on the services in multiple scenarios. We appreciate the continued support of our communities, board of directors, employees and staff. Feel free to contact me at (304) 354-9244 or stephen.whited@mhhcc.com.

Hur Herald from Sunny Cal
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