Strategic planning sessions begin at hospital

Nathan Oster

Three Rivers Health officials have analyzed the input they received from a recent community health needs assessment and are developing a three-year strategic plan they hope to have in place by Jan. 1, 2024.
CEO Joel Jackson offered a preview on Wednesday night, sharing a draft version developed over five hours of internal discussions in mid-October.
Board members simply got their first look at it.  They along with staff members will have opportunities in the weeks ahead to suggest changes.
The draft version presented last week included proposed mission and vision statements, along with six core values.
The TRH vision is “to be the facility of choice for healthcare by exceeding the expectations of those who live, work and visit the Big Horn Basin.”
TRH’s top three priorities, according to the draft, are improving financial strength, improving organizational culture and improving community health.  Under each, there is a list of action steps and recommendations for measuring success.
Needs Analysis
Jackson also informed the board that RediHealth, which facilitated the community health needs assessment, completed its final report and intends to present it at the November meeting. A 15- to 17-page document, that final report will be subject to board revision and approval, he said.
The hospital district received 186 responses to the online survey and verbal input from another 25-30 people who attended a public meeting.
While that may not seem like much given the population served by Three Rivers, Jackson said RediHealth came away impressed, telling him it far surpassed the participation they’ve noticed elsewhere.  
Jackson viewed it as a positive for TRH.
“If people care enough to complain or give feedback, it means they feel they have ownership and I think that’s really important for this organization at this time,” he said. “This will be our opportunity to be responsive and hopefully act on their concerns.”
From a financial standpoint, TRH continues to pull itself out of the abyss, although September won’t go down as one of its better months of 2023.
On several occasions during the 2022-23 fiscal year, the board had to dip into its reserves to fund operations. But it has not had to do so yet this fiscal year, and if that continues, the board will be able to use that money on capital expenditures, which is the intent of that reserve account since it’s funded by tax revenue.
Jackson also told the board a line of credit is no longer needed.  He’d been directed to pursue one with local banks while the hospital was struggling but it’s been on hold in recent months, awaiting the completion of an audit.
TRH ended the month of September with an operating loss of $171,329. It was a step back after July ended with a gain of $48,353 and August with a loss — albeit a slight one of $8,860.
Compared to August, patient revenue and outpatient visits were down, ER visits were up and acute patient days and swing bed days were comparable, he said.
Garza added that the district paid more for contract labor in September than it did in August.  One factor that contributed was the unsuccessful pursuit of a full-time director of nursing to join the staff. That extended the employment of the contract employee who has been filling the position on an interim basis.
Garza said the district’s days in cash is up to 37, although he cautioned that some of that is grant money that the district received from the state and will eventually have to pay Billings Clinic for the transition to a new electronic medical records software.
Other business
In other hospital district business:
• Kristi Bonnel-Phillips, a longtime PA at Big Horn Clinic in Basin, is scheduled to start seeing patients on Nov. 6, according to Jackson.
He said the hospital district also reached out to Tiffany Tanner, a PA at Cody Regional Health’s new clinic in Basin.  She’s met with the medical staff and been offered privileges at the TRH.
“Any provider in the community is a resource for us and we want to be a resource for them,” said Jackson.
• Curtis Benson was recognized as the TRH employee of the month for October.  He’s a maintenance technician and has been with the district since 2005.
• The hospital district has several open positions at this time.  In addition to the DON, it’s also seeking five registered nurses, an infection control/employee health employee, two laboratory MTs and a PRN CNA.
• Jeff Petty was elected vice-chairman, assuming the role previously held by Paul Thur.  Connie Werbelow will continue as the chairman of the board.
• Trudy Craft was appointed in September of fill the seat vacated by Thur.