This past weekend I attended a HANYS Trustee meeting. Sunday morning all the Northern hospitals met to discuss our region. Almost every rural hospital is seeing a decline in volume, while we are seeing an increase at St. Joseph's.
The reasons for their declines were discussed: physician shortages resulting in transfers, ease of transfer protocols to regional hospitals, large private groups consolidating in the urban core, and finally consumer choice.
This combined with a shift to population management, more outpatient care and higher co pays and deductibles has further eroded their hospital occupancy.
Clearly, a new model of health care is developing, one more focused on community based care, medical homes, prevention and wellness. We all agree that's the right direction.
But, to make this major transition we need to invest in new structures, technology systems, and care management models. If we don't do it carefully we threaten the economic fabric of regional communities. Health providers are often the major employers with the economic stability to attract other businesses.
What are the basics of health care needed in a rural community, what is the new model we want in this region, and what is our role in helping to support our regional partners?
We have helped with home care in the region. Did you know we have supported home care development in Lewis County, Utica, Cortland, Oswego and Onondaga counties? We have regional partnerships around durable medical equipment and sleep centers. We educate and graduate many family medicine physicians.
We are working to create future partnerships because we believe primary care access and community based care are the cornerstone for the future, and we can contribute to creating regional stability.
We are linked as a region in many ways, and continue to learn from these partners who provide care in very complicated environment.
Exciting times are ahead; we must do what's best for our communities and to create great patient care!