Mental health assistance

Hospital considers addition of outpatient service for Medicare-eligible residents in region

The possibility of adding an outpatient mental health service for Medicare-eligible residents of North Central Kansas was presented to the Republic County Hospital board at their meeting

Called Senior Life Solutions, the service is a hospital-based outpatient psychiatry program designed to diagnose and treat individuals age 65 and older, said David-Paul Cavazos, hospital administrator.

“We hear that to treat depression, therapy is the first-line treatment,”
said hospital board member Dr. Cayle Goertzen. “But it’s difficult to get therapy services here, so we don’t have options.” Goertzen and Diane Reed, director of nursing at the hospital, said they believe there is a need for the service in this area.

Senior Life Solutions would provide a psychiatrist, therapist, and director of nursing to provide evaluation and treatment to seniors with depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar affective disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, PTSD, certain personality disorders and adjustment disorders.

The service would include individual, group and family therapy for up to 10 hours weekly for eight to 10 weeks.

“We would be the only hospital in North Central Kansas doing
this, so I could see us attracting patients from surrounding counties,” said Cavazos.
Because the service is covered by Medicare, it could be offered in the closed wing of the Long Term Care unit.

Startup costs would be approximately $24,000, with a target date of January 1 to begin the program, he said.
Hospital board members encouraged Cavazos to continue researching the program, and to seek grant funding for start up costs.

Coding assistance

JH Seitz, regional vice president for Great Plains Health Alliance, said hospital has reduced accounts receivables from nearly 900,000 to less than $500,000 he said.

“We’re near $360,000, and our goal is to bring accounts receivables to less than $200,000,” said Cavazos. Cavazos said current staff are working overtime to code bills, sometimes remotely at home, in order to get charges submitted to payors, he said. Assistance with coding has also been contracted through GPHA