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Threat to hospital designation subsides

Staff writer

A rule proposed by a congressional super committee that would have stripped the critical-access designation from hospitals within 15 miles of another hospital has failed because of deadlock within the super committee, St. Luke Hospital CEO Jeremy Armstrong told St. Luke Hospital Auxiliary at the group’s meeting Thursday.

The change would have been financially devastating, costing the hospital about $1.1 million, he said. Although the immediate threat has passed, hospital groups remain vigilant in case the proposal crops up again.

The next financial problem is an expected 2 percent cut in Medicare reimbursement in 2013. Armstrong estimated the funding reduction would cost the hospital about $100,000 of lost revenue per year. The loss will hurt, but Armstrong said the hospital can manage it much better than losing the critical-access designation.

Armstrong told the group that expansion and renovation of the hospital is coming to a close. When asked by an audience member about lights that are always on in the expansion, Armstrong said those lights must remain on for safety purposes as required by building codes. He said there aren’t even switches to turn those lights off.

Auxiliary members also heard an update about Marion County Home Care.

Patient care manager Mary Ann Conyers said the service’s goal is always to help patients return to their normal lives after a short term of care. The service received recognition as a 2011 HomeCare Elite Top Agency because of the high percentage of patients that are able to resume normal activities.

The state’s annual review was also complimentary of Marion County Home Care’s patient care.

The service has nine staff members: four nurses, three aides, and two office staff. Conyers said the aides generally have the most personal relationship with patients.

“A lot of times, patients will say, ‘Just sit and talk with me,’” Conyers said.

Last modified Dec. 7, 2011

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