Kremmling hospital district to lease North Park Medical Clinic
The beginning of January marks several changes in the realm of health care in Grand County with the closing of Centura’s Granby Medical Center and the opening of the Middle Park Medical Center and the Ten Mile Family Medicine practice, both in Granby.
And yet another change is taking place involving the Kremmling Memorial Hospital District and the North Park Medical Clinic in Walden.
Effective in early January, negotiations will be finalized on The Kremmling district’s lease of the North Park Medical Clinic, which provides health care services to the people of Jackson County.
“We’ve been talking about it for about a year,” said Kremmling Memorial Hospital District CFO Cole White, about the deal that is poised to “bring more services to North Park, such as increased physician coverage, increased services, improved and additional equipment, home health possibilities and possibly more visiting specialty physicians” to the North Park facility, according to prepared statements.
The North Park Medical Clinic Inc. is a nonprofit private corporation with a board of directors. The building, built about four years ago, staffs about eight people in the clinic, which has four exam rooms, one trauma room, one treatment room and an X-ray room.
The building also houses three tenants: North Park Physical Therapy, Jackson County Social Services and Jackson County Mental Health, all of whom will remain in the building after the Kremmling district enters into the lease, which is expected to have a duration of five years.
“There really isn’t a downside to this deal,” White said.
The agreement preserves North Park’s ownership of the medical buildings, land, equipment and other assets. The district is not purchasing any assets, and purchase of the practice itself will be for a “nominal fee.”
“If we don’t do everything we say we can do,” White continued, “that ownership will revert back to them.”
The Kremmling district’s goal is to capture some of the estimated $11 million to $12 million in health care dollars in Jackson County, White said. The Kremmling district is poised to benefit by way of physician referrals and laboratory work.
Jackson County patients have often headed to Wyoming or Steamboat Springs for specialized care before coming to Grand County. And labs from the North Park Clinic are usually sent to Denver for processing. With the affiliation with North Park, more labs will be sent to Grand County, White said, which should translate into added jobs in Grand County.
One major reason for the affiliation from North Park’s perspective is the need to come into compliance with electronic health records under the federal Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, which was part of the 2009 federal stimulus package. Starting in 2015, hospitals and doctors will be subject to financial penalties under Medicare if they are not using electronic health records.
Since implementation could cost about $80,000, North Park is looking to tie into the already-established system at the Kremmling district.
“We’ll be able to offset some of the financial expenses being mandated by the health care world,” said North Park’s Clinic Manager Wendy Larsen. “We’re kind of an island right now, anything we do, we depend on ourselves.”
The deal, she said, provides North Park with a “bridge” that leads to more resources.
The affiliation can help North Park in ways of “economy of scale,” White pointed out, such as making billing more efficient at the clinic and the sharing of expertise.
The North Park clinic has been considered a “free-standing” rural health clinic, meaning it has not been linked to a hospital. With the Kremmling district lease, the clinic will now be affiliated with Middle Park Medical Center in Kremmling (Kremmling Memorial Hospital), which means it will now get “enhanced” federal reimbursements in Medicaid and Medicare on a greater scale, according to White.
In a nutshell, the deal “helps reduce their costs, increases synergism and makes their model more sustainable,” White said.
“I see this as a very positive thing for our clinic and for health care in general,” Larsen said.
Dr. Lynnette Telck, a doctor at Middle Park Medical who was raised in North Park and has been contracted for the past five years to serve North Park on a part-time basis, will now be at the Walden facility double the amount of time.
“This will allow North park Medical Clinic to serve more patients in our community. I will be able to be at the clinic two days a week, which will help with continuity of care,” Telck said in statements released last week.
The release further states that staffing will not change at the clinic, although “some staff may be added as deemed necessary.”
– Tonya Bina can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19603
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