>After five years, the contract management company operating Pioneer Memorial Hospital is not renewing its contract, leaving the door open, possibly to Cascade Health Systems

   August 28, 2001 -- The Pioneer Memorial Hospital board of directors has announced it is seeking a proposal for a new management contract from Cascade Health Services, Inc., of Bend. Current management contractor Banner Health Systems is ending its participation in the hospital management business.
   CHS has a similar management contract with Mountain View Hospital District in Madras and operates hospitals in Bend and Redmond.
   "Since Cascade Health Services is comprised of St. Charles Medical Center in Bend and Central Oregon Community Hospital in Redmond and also manages MVHD in Madras, it makes sense for us to begin our discussions with CHS for this service," states Don Wee, Executive Director of PMH. He added that discussions are ongoing, and PMH directors have asked for a formal proposal by the first part of October.
   Banner Health Services is getting out of the contract management business, Wee explained. Typically hospitals are run under a wide range of management processes, from a policy-making board to a lease-to-own operation. Pioneer Memorial is the last contract system Banner has.
   "Some people worry that a management contract may mean a loss of local control," Wee noted. "We don't see it that way. We look at it largely as an internal change. The new contract would consolidate many informal relationships that already exist in several areas, like those with the Central Oregon Network of hospitals (CONet)."
   "Hospitals in Central Oregon have been working collaboratively for more than a decade," explained Cascade Health Services spokesman Todd Sprague. "More formal relationships, like our management contract with Mountain View Hospital District in Madras - which would be the model for a relationship with Pioneer Memorial Hospital - can open up new opportunities for shared expertise, improved service and increased efficiency.
   We plan to listen closely to the needs of the Pioneer board and staff, Crook County residents and local physicians and then develop a proposal to address those needs. We're looking forward to exploring the possibilities."
   Both patients and the staff would not notice any difference if CHS's proposal is accepted. "For the patients it would be transparent," Wee said. "For the staff, only two people would be impacted, myself and our financial officer. The board has asked us both to stay on if the change goes through."
   Wee made it very clear that it is not a done deal. "There is a lot of interest from both sides and I believe it is the right thing to explore."
   If a changeover is approved, Wee expects it would be completed by the end of the year, when the hospital's fiscal year begins.
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