Together, better health care
Saturday, February 25, 2012
The odds appear good another regional alliance will remain intact, a cooperative effort that boosts our well-being and our most important regional asset and advantage — quality health care.
The word was received last week that the Federal Trade Commission and the state Attorney General’s Office have reviewed and “have no further questions” regarding the proposed joint management of Central Washington Hospital and Wenatchee Valley Medical Center. That lifts what could be the largest legal obstacle to the joining of the region’s two most important medical institutions under a common nonprofit board of directors.
This is good news, for several reasons. The joint management of the institutions has the potential to relieve the financial unease of Central Washington Hospital, which has been suffering an unexpected drop in patient volume and a corresponding loss of revenue. This may prevent the nonprofit hospital from being sold out of local ownership and control, and into the hands of a large, distant outside medical provider. That would be something new in the history of Central Washington health care, and likely an unwelcome change.
Joint management has the potential for cost savings. Duplicate services can be eliminated, beginning with the joining of administrative teams. As it now stands, many supportive services for health care — personnel, X-ray, information management and records, lab services — are duplicated. Estimates are a streamlining can bring significant savings, and that now appears to be possible. Patients moving from medical center to hospital and back won’t have to pay the clerical costs of transition. There also is a potential for enormous savings by coordinating and boosting preventive care, and by treating chronically ill patients while they can be cared for outside the hospital.
Perhaps most important, joint management and the stabilization of hospital ownership will keep intact the extensive cooperation between hospital and medical center that has both enriched our community culture and improved our health care. There is a strong bond between the organizations that has been built and nurtured over years. If that is broken, it would be a great loss.
Steps are now being taken to create a nonprofit foundation to move the joint management proposal to the next level. It can be a complex process. Anything can be in 21st century medical care. But soon, perhaps by summer, we will see change. The benefits may be subtle at first, but they will be real and tangible and build over time.
This is the opinion of The Wenatchee World and its Editorial Board: Publisher Rufus Woods, Editor Cal FitzSimmons and Editorial Page Editor Tracy Warner.
MORE LIKE THIS
Friday, May 24
BNI Wenatchee Valley Friday
Smitty's Pancake House, 7 a.m.
Monday, May 27
Conquer Your Fear of Public Speaking - Toastmasters Meeting
First United Methodist Church, 5:30 p.m.
Tuesday, May 28
Chelan County PUD Auditorium, 327 N. Wenatchee Ave., 7 a.m.
Tuesday, May 28
Alzheimer's Association Caregiver Support Group
Lake Chelan Community Hospital, 1:30 p.m.