Boosting services

Hospital considers walk-in clinic, more outpatient providers

Potential new services were on the agenda when the Republic County Hospital board met January 22.

Hospital administrator David-Paul Cavazos said he is researching the addition of an after-hours walk-in clinic that would allow patients to be seen for non-emergency care.

“One option would be to use the current outpatient clinic area for a walk-in clinic, and use the current treatment rooms near the nurses station for observation beds,” Cavazos said.

He said he has visited with other area hospitals that operate after-hours clinics during the week or on Saturday morning. The hospital may consider hiring a mid-level practitioner to see patients Monday through Friday evenings, with a local physician to provide back-up coverage.

“We would still maintain a regular emergency room,” he said. “We see a ton of patients at the hospital who are not true emergency room visits.”

Cavazos estimated that 60 percent of patients who use the emergency room for treatment are not true emergencies. Hospital chief financial officer Barry Bottger said the hospital averages six emergency room visits per day.

Hospital board members asked Cavazos to develop cost estimates and logistics to how the service would be implemented.

“I’d like to capture patients from a larger area of Jewell and Cloud counties,” he said. Hospital board member Dr. Cayle Goertzen said local physicians already see a number of patients from outside the county’s borders, often because they want to be seen by a physician.

Walk-in clinics, also called urgent care or after-hours care centers, have sprung up across Kansas and the nation, both as stand-alone facilities and operated by hospitals.

“I think the idea of the service is great, but it will come down to dollars and cents,” said J.H. Seitz, regional vicepresident for the Great Plains Health Alliance, which manages Republic County Hospital. “People today want things instantly.”

Goertzen said he and physicians Dr. Andy Walker and Dr. Nolan Beavers, along with his nurse practitioner Lori Rhine, have developed a new call schedule to cover the emergency room with the retirement January 1 of Dr. Robert Holt. Local physicians provide emergency room coverage to the hospital on a rotating basis in the evenings and weekends.

Outpatient clinics

Cavazos said he has also been in conversations with specialists about adding new outpatient services to the hospital.

Dr. Roderick Warren, a general surgeon, will be available to consult with patients beginning March 14 (see related story). Cavazos said Dr. Warren will not duplicate procedures already performed by local physicians, but will be available for procedures not currently offered in Belleville.

The hospital recently became accredited to perform overnight sleep studies.

Cavazos said he is also visiting with an orthopedic surgeon and a cardiologist to offer additional services to patients in Belleville.

Awaiting payment

Seitz said the hospital is awaiting a $587,000 check from Medicare, the difference between what Medicare paid the hospital in FY2017 and what it was actually owed. Bottger said the check is needed to cover upcoming payroll and bills.

Seitz said the hospital’s financials are coming nearer to break even. At the end of December the hospital had a $167,000 net loss so far in FY2018, compared to $538,000 in FY2017. The FY2018 numbers consider $250,000 in revenues from county property and sales tax that helps support hospital operations.

“When you consider depreciation is $142,000 (a noncash expense), it’s nearly a wash,” said Bottger.

Warren to offer general surgery services

Republic County Hospital announces the addition of general surgeon, Dr. Roderick Warren to the medical staff.

Dr. Warren was born and raised in Hanover where he attended school and graduated in 1990. He obtained his bachelor of general studies degree in human biology at the University of Kansas in Lawrence in 1994. He earned his MD degree at the University of Kansas School of Medicine in Kansas City, Kans., graduating in 1998. He completed his residency at Guthrie Clinic/Robert Packer Hospital in Sayre, Pa in General Surgery from 1998 to 2003.

Since that time he has been practicing at Surgical Associates of Northeast Kansas and Southeast Nebraska providing general and gynecologic surgical services.

“We are excited to provide the services of a general surgeon to our patients here in Republic County,” says hospital administrator DavidPaul Cavazos. “This will allow patients to stay here in Republic County, instead of traveling to Salina or Lincoln to have the care of a general surgeon.”

Dr. Warren will see clinic patients the second Wednesday of each month and will begin providing clinic and surgical services at Republic County Hospital on March 14th. Patients may schedule appointments by contacting Melanie at 785-527-2254.

The hospital also offers specialty clinics for ears, nose and throat; cardiology, orthopedics, urology, and cataract surgery