As Mountain View Hospital hosts public forums this week on the likely transfer of the district's assets to the St. Charles Health System, officials hope to hear the concerns and comments of district residents.
>Asset transfer on table
Because of changes in reimbursement from Medicaid, Medicare and Indian Health Services, and an electronic records mandate that goes into effect in 2014, hospital officials announced last week that they might partner with St. Charles by the end of the year to provide long-term financial stability.
In order to prepare for such a partnership, Janelle Orcutt, chairman of the MVH Board of Directors, said that the board is working on a list of key requirements for the negotiation.
"They would have to say yes, we would keep those things," she said. "One that's very important is that we'd still have babies born at Mountain View."
Jeanie Gentry, CEO of Mountain View, agreed that it is critically important to keep obstetrics services at the hospital. "We're just too far away -- not just us, but we serve people who are an hour beyond that."
Both Orcutt and Gentry want to maintain -- an even expand -- the services currently offered at the hospital.
"We've worked for a long time to have more procedures done at Mountain View, and we don't want to lose that," said Orcutt. "That's part of the character of our hospital to have those things local. We're trying to preserve as many jobs as possible."
St. Charles would also have to agree to some sort of remodeling project at Mountain View. As recently as January, the hospital was taking bids on a $22.4 million construction project that would have added 36,000 square feet to the hospital -- expanding the emergency, operating, imaging and laboratory areas.
An asset transfer is not the same as a sale, Gentry said, "because in a sale, you would take on some of the liabilities, too. What this would be would be to say, 'Please take over our hospital and make it a part of your corporation.' They would pay for what needs to be done, like the building project."
Currently, St. Charles owns or leases the hospitals in Bend, Redmond and Prineville, and provides management services -- the CEO and chief financial officer -- to Mountain View.
"This is the right thing to do for the regional delivery of health care services," commented James Diegel, CEO of St. Charles Health System in a press release. "By bringing all four hospitals under the St. Charles umbrella, health care delivery will be better coordinated and structured to deliver high-quality, safe and efficient care."
"I'm excited about it," said Gentry. "I think it's going to bring us more resources, but the small town touch isn't going to go away."
The hospital will hold a second public meeting on Thursday, Aug. 2, at 11 a.m. in the Metolius Conference Room at Mountain View Hospital. Board members and Diegel will be on hand to answer questions. Joe Krenowicz, executive director of the Madras-Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, will facilitate the meeting.
The first forum was held Tuesday, after the Pioneer went to press.