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CEO Update Year End 2019

Just to give you a brief update, work on the new Medical Surgical and Intensive Care Units is on schedule and under budget. The new units will be located adjacent to the new Maternal Child Unit, above the Main Lobby. Construction is scheduled for completion in April, and we’re planning to occupy the space sometime in May. We will be planning an Open House for the community to show off the new space after approvals are received from the State of Wyoming.

Drs. Deanna Lassegard and Amanda Opfer just received their board certification in Emergency Medicine. This means that all our emergency physicians have this certification, demonstrating a significant commitment to their profession and their patients.

We also have a new provider at the Wright Clinic. Don Tardif, PA-C, an experienced Advance Practice Provider, has made the move to Wright from our Walk-in Clinic in Gillette. I know the residents of southern Campbell County, Wyoming will appreciate having him there. I also want to thank Dr. Laine Russell for her years of committed service to the Wright Community.

Now I want to switch gears and talk about some national healthcare issues that affect all of us, even in rural Campbell County. While in Washington D.C. several months ago, I had an opportunity to meet with Senators Enzi and Barrasso. We discussed a variety of healthcare issues, but of particular note were three important topics. The first was the issue of Surprise Billing, primarily from Emergency Departments (ED). Across the country, there are many hospitals where the ED and the emergency physicians are not aligned as they are at CCH. In our organization, the facility and the physician group are both integrated components of emergency medicine. The physicians are all employed as a group, so all the insurances we take (Medicaid, Medicare, Blue Cross, etc.) have both the facility and provider in the network. Many organizations don’t have this advantage and the emergency physician group will bill separately from the hospital, often putting the patient in a precarious financial position if the physicians are not considered “in network” by the insurance company. We agree with our senate delegation that the best way to resolve this is to pay both the facility and physicians as if they were in network.

The second issue we discussed was the aggressive nature taken by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in terms of the laws and regulations in hospitals and nursing homes. The regulatory environment has become extremely antagonistic and punitive. It was our request to our senate delegation to communicate our concerns to CMS officials. Problems that CMS encounters in Florida, New Jersey, or California do not necessarily translate into problems in Wyoming, and we would like that difference understood.

Finally, we discussed the options for additional financing for rural community hospitals that provide specialty services like behavioral health or dialysis. These services are not profitable, but we believe that they are part of our mission to serve our community by providing a lifetime of care with dedication, skill and compassion. CCH will be putting together a funding proposal for their consideration. I complement our senators who are always supportive and engaged with rural healthcare issues. They truly do understand Wyoming’s unique challenges to providing care in all of our communities.

Sincerely,

Andy Fitzgerald, CEO