For more than a year, the respective boards of our organizations have been contemplating how to best navigate what is expected to be a challenging time for hospitals in the years to come. During that process, it became clear that the answer is close to home.
Given the challenges in healthcare on a national scale – including increasing reimbursement cuts, the decline of inpatient volumes, constrained revenue, the move of services to the outpatient setting, and the increasing difficulty in recruiting and retaining physicians – the question was, do we want to merely survive, or do we want to thrive?
On top of these industry challenges, our region suffers from serious health issues that need to be addressed. We have some of the highest rates of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and pulmonary disease in the country. We are experiencing an epidemic of addiction and untreated mental illness without access to the right level of inpatient and outpatient treatment. And, we admit more people to the hospital per thousand than most other areas of the nation.
The cost of this poor health is not sustainable, and it really is our responsibility – to the people who trust us for their care – to think differently.
We believe we can redirect resources toward what evidence shows will help make our region healthier, while controlling costs. Is this easy? Probably not. Is it urgent? Absolutely.
We are confident that Wellmont and Mountain States, together, as a new system guided by a local board, puts us in the best position to not only survive as a region, but to thrive.