(IRON MOUNTAIN, MI.)–For more than 66 years Dickinson County Healthcare System has been providing the best in quality healthcare for people throughout our community. For many of us, our babies are born here, our broken bones are repaired here and when we have an emergency, DCHS is where we turn for help. DCHS provides care when you need it, where you want it, and it is delivered by people you know and trust. The future of our local care is being threatened and DCHS is in a fight for its future. Not unlike many smaller, rural health systems throughout the nation, DCHS is experiencing lower utilization, decreasing insurance reimbursements and competition for services that are creating financial hardships that are making survival difficult. We are working to address these conditions to ensure that our community may continue to access the doctors and healthcare professionals our community knows and trusts while we seek a partner that is committed to the strength of DCHS and our community’s healthcare needs. We will not sacrifice the quality of care families receive. Our professional, caring and award winning team of physicians and nurses remain committed to DCHS and you. DCHS has determined that it is necessary to seek a regional healthcare partner, a partner that can provide the financial and other resources necessary to sustain DCHS in our community. We also believe the right partner will afford DCHS the opportunity to expand services and ensure the latest medical treatments, technologies and services are available locally. DCHS and Bellin entered into an agreement in the late fall to allow the two systems to assess the potential for a partnership. A decision was made to not move forward with the sale of DCHS to Bellin at this time. We have agreed to continue to collaborate with Bellin on initiatives that will benefit our patients and local community. Moving forward, DCHS is continuing to seek potential regional partners that we believe are the best fit for preserving healthcare for our community. In the meantime, DCHS has assembled a Strategic Committee to create and implement a Dickinson County Healthcare System Internal Strengthening Plan (ISP). The Committee is comprised of members of DCHS senior management, several on staff Physicians and the hospital board of directors. The DCHS ISP will focus on 3 major components: Creating Financial Stability, Increasing our Patient Volumes and Engaging our Community
1. Creating Financial Stability – DCHS is a not for profit entity – we are completely self-funded. We receive no tax dollars through a local millage. In 2017, we were forced to use cash reserves to address financial obligation. We are implementing the following strategies to stabilize DCHS’s financial position:
a. Reducing Expenses and Increasing Efficiencies – We have identified areas for cost reduction. Our annualized cost saving initiatives combined with resumed revenue streams will have a total positive impact of $10-12 million. We have achieved better efficiencies through implementing program modifications and improved staffing measures that more directly reflect patient care.
b. Improved Budget Analysis and Reactivity – We have instituted frequent department head analysis and budget to identify and prevent potential budget overages ahead of them occurring.
c. Bad Debt – Bad Debt represents healthcare services that DCHS provides to patients for which we are not paid. The Bad Debt incurred in April alone totaled $555,656. DCHS cannot remain viable and sustain these levels of bad debt. Improved billing and collection measures are being developed to help ensure timely and accurate billing, as well as payment assistance plan for patients with financial hardship.
2. Increasing our Patient Volumes – DCHS has seen an unprecedented reduction in our volumes to start the year. Through the first quarter of 2018, total inpatient volumes are down over 25% and total outpatient volumes are down 6% compared to 2017. If 2018 first quarter patient volumes were equal to 2017 first quarter patient volumes, DCHS would have experienced a financial gain for the quarter as opposed to a $2.7 million loss. Despite efforts to increase referrals through participating in a regional Clinically Integrated Network (CIN), we continue to see a lag in patient utilization of services. To boost our volumes we are launching a campaign that includes:
a. A Reminder of the DCHS Services –DCHS offers services and quality care in our small town that are often found only in larger cities. Our specialty services are vast and we provide 24 / 7 / 365 call coverage in our Emergency Department for many of these services. These services are a great amenity to our community, but they do carry a price tag. We hope you remain healthy and safe, but if you find yourself or a loved one ill or injured, we ask you to choose your DCHS team for your healthcare needs.
b. Patient Choice – For many Specialty Services, Lab work and Diagnostics, you may be referred by your Primary Care or Family Physician to another Provider. That Provider may be right here in town at DCHS or they may be a 2 hour car ride somewhere else. As the patient, you have the choice about where you seek further care. We ask you to choose your DCHS team for the specialty care and services your primary care physician may recommend.
c. Top Quality Healthcare Close to Home – Hopefully, you have seen the many billboards and announcements of the various DCHS Patient Safety and Care Awards. Top 10% of Hospitals in the Nation ranked by Healthgrades, one of only three hospitals in the state and the only one in the U.P. to receive Straight A’s from the Leapfrog Group, Economic Alliance for Michigan Patient Excellence Awards, and many others. We provide quality care by an exceptional team, and we provide it right here in Dickinson County, where it is easily accessible when you need it. We have some of the most highly qualified physicians and staff in the nation and they are proud to live in and serve this community.
3. Engaging our Community – the final and most crucial element to the success and future of our health system relies on you, the citizens of our community. Our campaign to Engage our Community includes:
a. Loyal to Local – Not unlike many other area businesses, DCHS is campaigning for you to remain Loyal to Local and to choose DCHS. Marketing efforts will be focused on reminding our community to utilize your community hospital. That has the added benefit of keeping healthcare dollars local, ensuring the best in doctors, nurses and facilities for serving care needs. Without this support, our community may be required to drive out of town for care needs.
b. Public Hearing / Press Conference – A town hall style meeting is being scheduled where everyone will be invited to come and show their support for DCHS. We look forward to listening.
c. Marketing Campaign – DCHS will launch its own Marketing Campaign focusing on our variety of services, our quality and our convenience. We are your Hometown Healthcare Resource.
DCHS is your hospital, many of you voted for this hospital, many of you utilize or have utilized it and now you have the ability to help determine where our future lies.
We need your help and when the time comes, we are asking you to choose DCHS.
(Joe Rizzo, DCHS, Public Information Manager)