Texas County Memorial Hospital opened a major addition in 2013. 

Officials at Texas County Memorial Hospital are making a concerted effort to keep patients local and use the hospital’s healthcare providers and services whenever possible. 

In his administrative report to board members last week, Chief Executive Officer Wes Murray said physicians, departments and administration at TCMH are working together to keep communication open and to provide education regarding the services available in the hospital and through the TCMH medical staff.  Murray also presented the first draft of a new strategic plan document, which includes the objectives of increasing the hospital’s market share and strengthening the hospital’s financial position.

“Conversations that began with our department managers going out to educate clinic staff and physicians about our new equipment, and discussions that we have had with our physicians about referral patterns are starting to make a difference,” Murray said. “Part of our strategic plan in the upcoming year is that everyone will have an understanding of what we do have to offer.”

Schuan Flaim, DO, chief of the TCMH medical staff, and one of three internal medicine physicians employed at the TCMH Medical Complex in Houston, said he and his fellow internal medicine colleagues — Gretchen Price, DO, and Jonathan Beers, DO –– are also trying to educate fellow members of the medical staff about the types of patients they can see and manage.

“As internal medicine physicians, we trained to handle a wide variety of complex medical issues,” Flaim said.  “If the family medicine docs and mid-level providers will refer patients to us rather than sending them to a specialist, we can take care of the patient and their disease.”

Flaim explained that many times patients that are referred to specialists at larger facilities in Springfield or other towns are not able to see the specialist for several months.  Then, the specialist only treats one specific thing, such as the heart or the kidneys.

“Jon, Gretchen and I trained to manage multiple complex chronic diseases,” Flaim said. “We are very capable and willing to see these patients, and if they do have a problem that a specialist needs to handle, we will refer those patients.”

Omanez Fockler, chairperson of the TCMH board of trustees, said she has had personal experience with a family member that benefits from the care of a local internal medicine physician. 

“Dr. Flaim is able to cover all the issues rather than seeing a different specialist for each issue,” Fockler said. “The patients don’t have to make multiple trips out of town to see many different doctors.”

Flaim said one of the area mid-level providers now refers all of her diabetic patients to him first rather than to an endocrinologist. 

“Many times, it takes three months for a patient to be seen by a specialist, but we can see the patient within a week or so,” Flaim said.

Flaim said patients save money and time by not making multiple trips out of the area for doctor visits. He said residents in the community don’t think to ask to see a local internist rather than a specialist in a town they have to travel to.

“Our community is starting to get an idea that internal medicine and family medicine physicians are different, but our practices are complementary to each other in a setting like the one we have at TCMH,” Flaim said.

Also part of the strategic objectives in 2014 is preparation for new payment structures and creating an engaged and developed workforce. Among 12 projects are recapturing the Mountain Grove market, developing a telehealth program and increasing efficiency in the emergency department. Each project has specific goals and measures to drive those goals.

“We are still working through this document, but when it’s complete, we will have copies that each department manager will have on their desk to keep all of us focused on our strategic plan,” Murray said.

Murray also reported that TCMH is beginning an employee wellness incentive program in December. The program will incentivize all hospital employees to get their annual wellness screenings through TCMH providers and services.

“Our health insurance rates went up 9.3 percent this year,” Murray said.  “Five percent of that increase came from the ‘soft tax’ imposed on all employer-provided health insurance plans as part of the Affordable Care Act.”

Murray explained that TCMH can “help ourselves” by getting more employees to utilize the preventative and wellness screening that are part of the health insurance plan. 

“Less than 10 percent of our employees utilized the wellness benefits available through our insurance plan in 2013,” Murray said.

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