"Short Term and Long Term Planning Needed to Keep Up With the Times"
Short Term and Long Term Planning Needed to Keep Up With the Times To the Editor: When the Citizens' Coalition for Excellence in Oelwein Healthcare was formed nearly a year ago, our stated mission was "to create dialog and unified action in a proactive fashion to improve healthcare for all citizens in the Oelwein area community." That is still our goal! In the tradition of what our community has done with the downtown revitalization, the building of the Williams Center, the Public Library, the Regional Math Academy, and many other projects, we want to see the same progress made at Mercy Hospital. We have the finest hospital employees around. We are very proud of them and the work they perform. Part of our vision for Oelwein Mercy Hospital is to add more dedicated employees and to make more services available to the citizens of our area. We fervently desire to see the facility itself and short-term and long-range planning improved to keep up with advances already made and being made by surrounding hospitals in smaller communities. We are "Positively Oelwein" in our desire to help our good hospital become even better! Toward that end, our group visited the hospitals in West Union, Independence and Manchester to see what they are doing, and to pick their brains concerning how they are preparing for the future of healthcare in their communities. We also have obtained information from the Iowa Hospital Assn. The following data was provided by Perry Meyer, Sr. VicePresident of the Information Center of the Iowa Hospital Association, 100 E. Grand Ave, Suite 100, Des Moines, IA 50309-1835: ANNUAL PROFIT FOR 2000 - 2007 REPORTED BY AREA HOSPITALS Independence 382,986 169,500 226,518 514,275 291,181 264,697 192,241 60,689 Manchester 1,893,981 1,388,547 1,388,762 1,363,554 2,211,838 348,908 4,655 139,093 Oelwein 1,166,911 1,088,371 932,615 325,005 523,014 461,639 273,549 366,955 West Union 214,283 135,682 312,710 690,858 631,318 865,752 522,233 (288,349) 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 Over the past three years, Mercy Hospital has averaged more than a million dollars in profit. For the 2000's, the total profit at Mercy is $5,138,059, with an average annual profit of $642,257. What have these hospitals done with their profits? How are they gearing up for the future in the highly competitive healthcare business? CURRENT HOSPITAL EXPANSION PROJECTS COMPARISON Independence $6.5 million Manchester $7.5 million Oelwein $0 West Union $10 million While Oelwein is expanding its existing pain clinic, it is using existing space that formerly served as a waiting room in Dr. Anthony Leo's office, and as such is not an expansion project like the massive building projects going on in the other three communities. Why is it that smaller communities around us, with two of them having hospitals with considerably smaller income than Mercy Hospital over the past decade, are able to pursue such impressive multi-million dollar expansion projects? All three other hospitals embrace the idea that they need to continue to expand locally. After careful study, they vigorously and excitedly are upgrading and improving their local healthcare options for their towns. What are the long-range plans for Mercy Hospital? What has become of the more than $3 million in profits for the past 3 yrs, or the more than $5 million for the 2000's? We have asked, but the out of town entity which runs the hospital hasn't been willing to answer questions about the past or the future. A few years ago plans were drawn up for a much needed expansion of the emergency room area, but those plans dissolved. Why? What happened? We haven't been able to find out. Have you seen the recent ads in the paper run by the hospital? The caption is "Right Here in Oelwein", followed by "You don't have to leave town to get quality specialty care." It then lists 7 outpatient clinics that are available at Mercy Hospital in Oelwein. Here's how Mercy compares to the hospitals in the surrounding smaller communities for outpatient clinics per month. (Some of Oelwein's clinics are available more than once each month): MONTHLY OUTPATIENT CLINICS/DOCTORS Independence Manchester Oelwein Clinics: 73 40 plus cardiology 15 Doctors: 40 25 plus cardiology 7 West Union 50 30 How important are those clinics to the communities they serve? Well, Manchester reported that fully 90% of their income comes from those outpatient clinics, and Independence's administration told us outpatient clinics account for 73% of their income. (Figures were not available for West Union or for Mercy Hospital.) Without even factoring in the obvious expense with current gasoline prices, and the loss of other revenue for our town when people leave town for their medical outpatient care, and shop, eat, etc in other towns, do your own math on how much more our hospital's net profit would be if we had the number of outpatient clinics that Manchester and Independence do. Are there any plans for expanding the outpatient clinics here? While we have been told our goals are shared by those who run the hospital, unfortunately no known plans exist for expansion. We know that long-term dedicated physicians are a key to providing the kind of healthcare experience that our community needs. Unfortunately, the past decade has not provided the stability the Oelwein area needs: PHYSICIAN TURNOVER IN THE PAST DECADE (1999 - 2008) Independence Manchester Oelwein West Union 2 4 13 1 It seems very odd that each of the surrounding smaller hospitals have more doctors coming to their hospitals and have far less turnover than Mercy Hospital. While we have been told doctor recruitment is a priority, no progress has been seen in this area. One of the areas with which we are most concerned is the loss of Mercy's obstetrics department. We have been given several reasons for this. They include that our demographics are not right to deliver babies here; we can't recruit doctors to this area; and the cost of malpractice suits is too high. The information doesn't support those arguments: BABIES DELIVERED; OBSTETRIC LAWSUITS IN THE PAST TEN YEARS Independence Manchester Oelwein West Union no babies 175-180 babies/yr no babies 120-130 babies/yr no lawsuits no lawsuits no lawsuits no lawsuits West Union's 2000 census population was 2,549, compared to Oelwein's 6,692. Manchester's population was 5,257. How can it be that West Union at well less than half our size, and Manchester with 1,400 fewer people, and both within a few miles of us, deliver well more than 100 newborns each year and we don't have OB? What do these other smaller towns have that Oelwein doesn't? One very obvious factor we encountered at all three other hospitals is the level of cooperation between the medical staff and the administration, and the allowance of selfgovernance of the doctors at those hospitals. Unfortunately, the lack of medical staff self-governance has not improved in Oelwein over the past year. Our listed concerns of a full year ago merit repeating: -- The inability of our current system to retain highly qualified family practioners. --Reestablishment of an active obstetrical service. --The need to expand the emergency department. --The development of a dedicated ambulatory surgical center within the hospital. --The development of a community educational center within the hospital. --The development of a dedicated women's health center. --The need to optimize business relationships in the Oelwein community relative to healthcare services. --Recruiting an orthopedic surgeon. --Developing a multi-specialty outpatient clinic. --Fostering a heightened awareness of the important role of the hospital with regard to the socioeconomic development of the Oelwein area, with local community members directly involved in a proactive fashion to achieve that goal. Our question after being told a full year ago to just let the existing governing body take care of things, is what progress has been made toward these goals? We have been told these are goals which are shared by those who run our hospital, but it appears to us it is time to put that million dollars a year profit to use implementing projects to meet those goals. Please recall a point made at the outset of this letter: We are very proud of the hospital employees at Mercy Hospital. They do an outstanding job! And our purpose is not to be critical of the local board. Their hands are largely tied by the out of town administrators who dictate system-wide decisions, which benefit Milwaukee and Waterloo, but unfortunately all-too-often are not what is best for immediate Oelwein area. We would much prefer to be like Manchester, West Union and Independence, and see our local hospital profits spent right here in Oelwein. We are Oelwein residents who want the best hospital and healthcare we can obtain for all of us who call this great community "home". We would welcome your support, both as active members and financially. Your financial support will represent an investment to create a healthy future for Oelwein healthcare, with appropriate local independent governance by local physicians and local community leaders alike. Contributions may be sent to P.O. Box 83, Oelwein, IA 50662. Signed, The Citizens Coalition For Excellence in Oelwein Healthcare Bruce Bearinger, President Jym Hansen, Vice-President Monica Streicher, Treasurer Debbie Barker, Secretary Dr. Ken McDonough Virginia Ruark Wayne Saur