Cavalier County Memorial Hospital (CCMH) CEO Chris Wyatt, along with the governing board and the administration team, held a community forum on Thursday, July 28 with over 100 members of the community coming out to hear the latest from the hospital regarding its future and Wyatt’s plans.
Posted on 8/6/16
By Melissa Anderson
“I am very determined to make sure we succeed,” Wyatt said.
Wyatt addressed the changes that have occurred at CCMH over the past seven months under his leadership. Wyatt explained that previously the position of CEO held almost absolute authority with many answering to the person in that position.
Since Wyatt took the helm in January of this year, he has spread more responsibility amongst the management team and created a new position (Corporate Compliance Officer) that does not answer to him. This position will report to the board regarding compliance and staff concerns that cannot be handled by the CEO. This allows those with concerns to seek assistance without fear.
One aspect of making sure appropriate changes were made at the hospital involved community input which was done by a survey sent out earlier this year. Wyatt explained that a little over 200 surveys were returned and from that feedback the staff of CCMH has been working towards productive changes within the hospital to better serve the community. One such change was the community’s concern with patient privacy and HIPPA laws.
“We have nipped the gossip in the bud,” Wyatt said,” but I cannot fix what I don’t know about.”
Wyatt and the executive team have also made changes to the policy manual of CCMH, allowing for more discourse amongst the staff at the hospital as well as chain of command.
“Previously, only a few people had power, now it’s more fair,” Wyatt explained.
Not only were changes made to the operation of the hospital but also with the governing board whose sole purpose is to supervise the CEO in regards to the conduct and welfare of CCMH.
Wyatt has been working with the CCMH board to ensure that the hospital is in the best possible position to continue operations and be open for many years to come. One current issue that has been raising concerns is the frequently closed meetings held by the board. The meetings will continue to be open to the public. However, due to certain sensitive issues some meetings will need to be closed not only to protect the hospital but the community it serves.
“We just want to make sure that if we go into executive session we do so without being in violation of any North Dakota statutes,” Wyatt said, “Yes, we want you all to come if you have questions, but at the same time understand that there may be times that we have to go into executive session to discuss confidential matters.”
“We will continue to share records regarding any use of tax payer monies to give everyone confidence in our use of those funds. At this time, the only tax payer funding received is for the ambulance services, and those are independently tracked from our general funds,” Wyatt continued.
Several in the audience expressed concern over the lack of doctors currently at CCMH as well as the reason for the sudden departures of some providers.
Wyatt explained that the management team and the Board of Directors have an obligation to make sure the hospital is operated in a way that supports the community and aligns with their charitable purposes. Doing so means that all operational areas must be evaluated including provider relationships, and all of CCMH’s contracts are subject to numerous health care requirements.
“Since I took my position as CEO, we have devoted substantial time and resources to our health care compliance efforts. In particular, we’ve focused on evaluating our hospital contracts and on developing a comprehensive compliance program. We believe this process shows our good faith commitment to ensuring and promoting integrity and is in the best interest of the hospital and our community going forward,” Wyatt said.
The CCMH clinic is currently averaging 8 to 11 patients per provider per day. Wyatt sees opportunity to expand this number by adding additional appointments throughout the day.
“The goal is to never turn away a patient due to lack of provider availability,” Wyatt said.
The emergency room at CCMH averages about three patients per day but has periods with considerably more than three per day especially on weekends.
“All patients who present to the emergency room are seen by a medical provider,” Wyatt stated.
The medical provider may be a Nurse Practitioner (NP), Physician Assistant (PA), or a physician-MD or DO. CCMH is a Level V Trauma Center as designated by the State of North Dakota. At a Level V Trauma Center, ER coverage can be provided by a PA, NP, MD, or DO.
“We are prepared to meet the needs of the majority of our community’s emergency needs. However, for more critical cases, we also have the ability to diagnose and stabilize in preparation for a quick transfer to higher level trauma centers,”Wyatt said.
Currently, CCMH is staffed with several PAs and NPs as well as having locum providers to fill in temporarily until full-time doctors can be hired. Wyatt gave substantial credit to the staff that is currently working at CCMH including the nurses and nursing assistants in the hospital.
Wyatt has worked over the past three months to find providers using a retained methods of recruitment, meaning that CCMH gets first pick at the best possible candidates from those recruiters. Since the search began, Wyatt has been offered four candidates and has one possible great fit for CCMH.
“Of the four candidates, two were dismissed immediately, and two were interviewed,” Wyatt stated,” We want more than just a warm body. We want someone who fits.”
Wyatt explained that the strategy for attracting providers has been to showcase what Langdon and CCMH has to offer as a benefit.
The hospital is also working on finding paramedics to staff the ambulance squad. They are actively recruiting and interviewing for those positions open on the ambulance.
Another goal of CCMH is to implement telemedicine technology which would allow for a specialist located at a bigger hospital to visually inspect the patient and give direction to the staff at CCMH. At this time only select procedures can be done this way but Wyatt has hopes to bring this service to CCMH.
Some in the audience voiced concerns over healthcare costs. Wyatt addressed these issues by stating that while some in the area may be providing healthcare at lower costs, those faciliites may be putting their hospital at financial risk by charging so low under the fee schedule. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid set their fee schedules by which CCMH must charge. Every other insurance negotiates the rates at which the hospitals in its network should charge and be reimbursed. However, if there are questions about a bill, please call CCMH, and they will address any concern.
“We charge based on how much work goes into diagnosing which is based on our contract rates with each insurance provider,” Wyatt explained.
CCMH will continue to work towards earning the patients back that are currently seeking healthcare at nearby facilities by having a relationship with the community it serves and providing the best possible care.
CEO Chris Wyatt is open to communication with the general public and asks that any questions or concerns be directed towards him. Community members can reach Wyatt at his office: 701-256-6180 or if it is an urgent matter his cell phone: 701-557-2087.