LifePoint CEO touts local hospital’s success

July 22, 2011

Rural hospitals need to adapt for survival

Fort Morgan Times
By John La Porte
21 July 2011

Bill Carpenter, chief executive officer of the management company for Colorado Plains Medical Center, had high praise for the Fort Morgan hospital in a speech to local medical, government and business leaders Wednesday. But he also warned the group gathered at the Country Steak-Out that rural hospitals would have to adapt to survive in the changing health care atmosphere.

Carpenter said he was “proud to be here to brag a little bit on Colorado Plains Medical Center.”

LifePoint Hospitals, which manages 52 hospitals, mostly in small communities, has been successful for more than a decade by working hard to provide quality health care, he said.

“Colorado Plains Medical Center is the top of the heap,” Bill Carpenter Carpenter pointed out.
The hospital won the company’s High Five Award as being the best at improving the quality of care, working closely with physicians and being a good employer, citizen of the community and operator.

“Mike (Patterson, CPMC CEO) and his team have done a remarkable job,” Carpenter declared.

With the High Five Award went $250,000, which CPMC has used to build a courtyard area, upgrade nurses’ stations and the physicians’ lounge and purchase equipment.

Carpenter also gave kudos to Martha Bieber, chair of the operating board; Howard Wickham, chair of the hospital association board, and Tim Amen, chair of the foundation board.

“We want Colorado Plains Medical Center to be this community’s first choice for health care,” he stated.

Carpenter also gave credit to East Morgan County Hospital in Brush and its management company, Banner Health, for providing qualitty health care.

Asked by an audience member about divisions between the two hospitals and some physicians going from Fort Morgan to Brush, he urged people not to give up on hopes for collaboration. The companies have had conversations and will continue to have conversations, he added.

Carpenter said he has seen other inter-community rivalries resolved with collaboration.

The CEO laid out several bits of data about LifePoint and CPMC:

Over the past several years, LifePoint has invested more than $4 million in CPMC, including revamping the emergency department and radiology and starting a new geriatric behavioral health unit.

CPMC has recruited five new physicians in the last year—in psychiatry, obstetrics-gynecology, internal medicine, surgery and cardiology.

The hospital has more than 280 employees, making it one of Morgan County’s major employers, pays more than $239,000 a year in property taxes and gave out $3.3 million last year in uncompensated charity care.

Employee satisfaction is in the 90th percentile nationwide.

Trends have forced leaders in health care to be more courageous than ever before, Carpenter said.

Of the scene in Washington, D.C., he said, “I have never seen the level of animosity that exists there today.”

Many politicians seem to regard their election as a mandate, he said.

While many say that if Republicans gain a majority in Congress and win the presidency in 2012, health care reform will be repealed within 90 days, health care reform is now the law, Carpenter pointed out.

Meanwhile, the big issues in D.C. are the debt ceiling and the deficit.

A solution must be found to the rising cost of health care, the CEO stated, and hospials will have to be innovative.

In pay for performance ratings, CPMC ranks very high.

Hospitals in rural areas are trying to figure out how to survive, recruit physicians and acquire state of the art technology, Carpenter said.

Health care reform includes meaningful use standards, including medical records requirements, that will be hard on small hospitals, particularly standalone hospitals, he added.

CPMC plans to implement the first phase of those standards early next year, Patterson noted.

Also, patients will have to be treated in the lowest-cost systems possible.

Bieber said she was thankful LifePoint came in when CPMC was struggling and made a big difference.

“This is not LifePoint’s Hospital,” Carpenter told the audience. “It’s your hospital.”