IU Health Starke Hospital personnel attended a Strategic Planning Retreat this week. Presenting pertinent information were Doug Leonard, the president of the Indiana Hospital Association; Tory Castor, vice president of Government Affairs at IU Health Indianapolis; and Dr. Curt Bechler, managing partner of Venture International, LLC.
Included was a review of surveys taken by community members and an examination of national trends. Most of the respondents expressed confidence in the medical staff, and praised the decision to affiliate with IU Health. One weakness, however, was the perception that the antiquated Starke Hospital building denoted inferior services – but Hospital Interim CEO David Hyatt noted that the services rendered at Starke have never been better.
“We don’t do everything at Starke, but what we do here is of the highest quality,” he said.
Another interesting fact presented at the retreat was that only 15 percent of patient payments for services at Starke come from private insurance. Another 20 percent is bad debt, four percent charity, and the rest comes from government funding, which many of the presenters said hasn’t kept up with skyrocketing costs.
“The payer mix is a real challenge for rural hospitals,” Hyatt said, “and it will be in the future, too.”
An unknown impact in the future will be the effect of proposed Affordable Care Act provisions, many of which have already been enacted. Many state legislators are waiting on the result of the November election to discuss health care as Republicans have vowed to roll back, or repeal, the ACA if Mitt Romney is successful in his presidential bid.
“Although it may feel like decisions made today are made with feet planted on shifting sand,” Tory Castor said, “But successful hospitals in the future will be ones that provide favorable outcomes and efficiencies.”
All in attendance agreed that the good things happening at Starke Hospital have not been amplified enough, and those present vowed to carry the message of “quality care” out into the community. State Senators Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso, and Jim Arnold, D-La Porte, were present.