The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

By Michele Smith
The Times 

CCHS Looks to Expand Tele-Medicine Services


DAYTON-The world of virtual medicine was on CEO Shane McGuire's mind during the regular meeting of the Columbia County Health System Commissioners last week. As reported earlier, CCHS already has three tele-health units on site: one in the Emergency Department and one in each of the two outpatient clinics, assisting clinicians in patient care.

Now plans are in the works to add tele-psychiatry and tele-hospitalist services to the list.

McGuire said he has been working in conjunction with the University of Washington, to deliver tele-psychiatry services to the District.

Dr. Daniel Varnell has been providing the District with integrated behavioral health services, but he is leaving to pursue other opportunities, McGuire explained.

McGuire said having access to tele-psychiatry would provide "face to face time" for the primary care doctors, and for patient appointments.

Tele-psychiatry will be in place by the third week in March, McGuire said.

Meanwhile, McGuire, Dr. Kurt Frauenpreis, Dr. Michael Luce and MSW Wayne Pollard have been working with Blue Mountain Counseling to help patients with their behavioral health needs.

Also, the District has been accepted by the University of Washington into a random control group, for a three-year clinical study in integrated behavioral health.

"This is an exciting study and we will get all of the intervention materials at the end of the study, to assist us with our efforts," McGuire told the commissioners.

McGuire said an added bonus is the $7,200 the District will receive for each quarter of the study.

Tele-hospitalist services are also being planned for Dayton General Hospital, largely due to the rising average daily in-patient census. Having this service in place will provide the hospital with 24/7 physician coverage, McGuire said.

McGuire said he has attended a meeting with program directors from Providence Health Care to discuss accessing tele-hospitalist services for use at DGH. He hopes to have tele-hospitalist services in the downstairs swing bed hall by the end of the year.

The month of January was financially solid, with strong volumes across nearly all service lines, McGuire said.

"Starting the year with a $353,132 in net income creates a nice buffer for moving forward," he said.

McGuire said work continues with accounting firm DZA on end-of-year processes, adjustments and cost reports.

McGuire also said there were two accounts receivable errors, resulting in a loss of $280,000 from the District's net position for 2017. "The audit process every year catches something," he said.

There will be further adjustments, resulting in a higher or lower number as the auditing process continues. "The finance team is working hard to make sure the cost report information is as accurate as it possibly can be," McGuire said.

McGuire requested approval of a six-month window to purchase a software program to back up critical infrastructure and servers in the Cloud, and to replace electrical switches causing power outages in the administration building and in front of the hospital.

"A true disaster recovery mechanism is needed," McGuire told the commissioners.

The commissioners approved McGuire's request, and CFO Cheryl Skiffington will work on identifying funds for the $103,000 package.


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