DCHS battered by challenges

At 7 p.m. March 26, there will be a Dickinson County Commission meeting where the public will have the opportunity to comment on the proposed sale of our local hospital to Bellin Health.

As a member of the DCHS Board of Trustees for more than eight years, I have become altogether aware of all the challenges our rural hospital has faced. The challenges have been many, yet nothing compared to the difficulties we’ve faced in 2017. Hospital revenues decreased by more than $10 million dollars due to decreases in utilization and loss of eligibility requirements for various reimbursement programs, as compared to the previous year.

That loss of revenue was made significantly worse due to an increase in uncompensated care and a patient care mix that offered poor levels of reimbursement from Medicare, Medicaid and Blue Cross Blue Shield.

The public meeting March 26 is a critical step in the process. It is where transparency and legal procedures will be exercised at the county board level. Every citizen is able to be party to that process.

The transparency issue is one that often causes concerns for those who can’t attend hospital board meetings. The community has entrusted nine trustees to act in their best interest. All meetings are open to the public and meeting minutes are available for scrutiny.

As a practical matter, the most important document with regards to “transparency” is the monthly financial report and annual audit reports. Those reports are where the truth is laid bare on the day-to-day challenges that face our rural hospital.

Again, those reports are available for anyone to view and provide the clearest and most transparent picture of why it is necessary for our community to support the proposed sale to Bellin Health.