The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

By Michele Smith
the Times 

Columbia County Hospital District update

Assisted living, dental clinic, Booker Rest Home Family Game Night


March 12, 2020

DAYTON—During the February meeting of the Hospital District commissioners, Columbia County Health System CEO Shane McGuire said John McLean of Blue Room Architecture in Spokane has submitted the sole bid for architecture services for the planned dental office project.

The dental clinic for Medicaid patients will be located at the Columbia Family Clinic, adjacent to the hospital. McGuire said construction bids will be solicited, shortly. The clinic should be operational at the end of 2020.

A new, ten-bed design is being reviewed for the proposed assisted living campus to be located at the north end of the hospital grounds, McGuire told the commissioners.

The homes will feature Craftsman, or Cottage style exteriors, he said.

“They are going to be homes,” he said. “They are going to feel like homes.”

Assisted living options will be unveiled at the hospital board strategic planning meeting, in April.

McGuire said Stephanie Carpenter, Chairperson for the Aging and Long-Term Care Advisory Council (ALTC) in Columbia County, and other members of an ALTC coalition from southeastern Washington recently met with Rep. Bill Jenkins, Rep. Skyler Rude and Sen. Maureen Walsh, in Olympia, to advocate for seniors, as part of the Senior Citizens Lobby.

The coalition is advocating for long-term care services and supports including the need to hire more case managers, dementia resource specialists, and ALTC agents to work with hospital discharge planners, Carpenter said.

She told the commissioners there is only one case manager for every eighty-five people in the state. The request is for $3.9 million from the state’s general fund for hiring additional case managers.

Carpenter said the Dementia Action Collaboration is asking for $1.9 million to hire dementia resource specialists throughout communities in the state, who can provide people with early intervention education, legal education, and advanced behavioral and transitional care. Dementia resource specialists will also help advance Dementia Friendly Communities, she said.

McGuire said the lack of housing is sometimes a problem for people being discharged from the hospital.

“These early steps we are taking on assisted living can easily translate into other housing opportunities,” he said. “I don’t think we are done talking about adult family homes.”

McGuire spoke about the hospital’s partnership with Lewiston Orthopedics.

“Our partnership with Lewiston Orthopedics has started off very well,” McGuire said.

The Lewiston Orthopedic team was introduced to the Dayton General Hospital electronic health record system on their first day at the hospital. They also treated four patients that day, and they treated nine patients at the next session.

McGuire said dermatology care is likely to be expanded from one day to two days at the Waitsburg Clinic.

He said the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) requires tracking for the time providers spend face-to-face with a patient, charting, and in “stand-by” mode, when there are no patients in the Emergency Department, and a new badge system to track providers’ time is in place.

This is to ensure CMS is not being double billed.

Negotiations are still underway with three Medicaid Managed Care Organizations to reach a settlement on underpayments to the hospital distract, for swing bed care. So far Amerigroup, Molina and Coordinated Care are responding in good faith to resolve the collective total $1.2 million owed to the Hospital District, McGuire said.

Eighty-five percent of Medicaid patients are being assigned to a specific managed care organization under the Affordable Care Act. There are five MCOs in Columbia County, he said.

The revenue cycle team has restructured the way they process insurance payments, and are specializing in insurance payers. Payers like Premera Blue Cross, and Regence Blue Shield all have unique processes.

“We think ultimately this will make things flow a lot better through the billing process,” he told the commissioners.

McGuire said during the fourth quarter of last year the health district received almost $200,000 from the Greater Columbia Accountable Communities of Health (GCACH) organization to advance population health and information technology initiatives, and to pay for provider service programs. Those funds also helped the District purchase a patient transportation van.

The grants have also paid for tele-hospitalist services, including the University of Washington tele-psychiatry services, upgrades to the web service hardware, and support for the Integrated Behavioral Health program, he said.

In 2019 the Hospital District received about $800,000, from GCACH, and will continue to receive funds, for meeting certain milestones, in 2020.

McGuire also wanted to thank the population health committee, which is comprised of the following people; Dr. Kurt Frauenpreis, Kim Emery PA-C, Judy Miller, Clinic Director, Janet Ihle, Melissa Nesje, Erin Trump, and Minnie Smith for their work in this area.


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