Kirby hosts healthcare summit

In response to expected mandates of the Affordable Care Act and the growing need for local hospitals to work together, Kirby Medical Center and the Illinois Critical Access Hospital Network hosted a regional critical access hospital Governing Board Summit last month, with focus placed on enhanced governance.

The brainchild of Kirby’s governing board, the first-ever regional summit on Nov. 15 involved invitations to a centralized cross-section of Illinois CAHs, including  Dr. John Warner Hospital, Gibson Area Hospital & Health Services, Hoopeston Regional Health Center, Hopedale Medical Complex, Kirby Medical Center,  Pana Community Hospital, Paris Community Hospital, and Taylorville Memorial Hospital. The event was attended by approximately 40 board members along with their CEOs.

“In meeting with Pat (Schou, ICAHN Executive Director), Craig Webb and I volunteered to host the summit as a way to network with area critical access hospitals,” said Steve Ayers of Kirby Medical Center’s Board of Directors. “The new Kirby Medical Center recently completed its first year of operation, and we wished to share our experiences with other board members and staff who may be planning a building project.

“We found during our planning process that visiting with similar hospitals gave us valuable insight,” he added. “With the uncertainty of modern medical care, getting together with our peers is a worthwhile endeavor.”

ICAHN plans to expand the program in 2013, offering three or four regional governing board summits across the state with the next two to be held at Mendota and Carthage. Those attending the Kirby summit were asked to repeat the regional meeting this fall, with Gibson Area Hospital & Health Services offering to host that region’s next event.

Following a tour of KMC, which opened in September 2011, and a networking dinner, summit speakers offered insight on quality and a board’s imperative as well as hospital board responsibilities in this era of reform.

Michael Cruz, MD, FACEP, of OSF Saint Francis Medical Center, and Vice-President of Quality and Safety, encouraged board members to fully embrace quality improvement in patient care and hospital operations and stressed the growing patient safety focus.  Hospital boards have a responsibility to help ensure patients are safe and well cared for. 

He suggested boards focus on outcomes as patient experience and the cost of poor care, such as a hospital related infection.  Cruz also emphasized the fact that “although perfect care doesn’t exist, continuously improving care does,” adding that knowledge of performance gaps and taking explicit actions to close those gaps is a basic tenet of being a hospital board member. 

Steven Moore, Attorney-at-Law, Partner, with the Health Care Practice Group of Hinshaw & Culbertson, LLP,  discussed the Affordable Care Act and its increased responsibilities, including hospitals now required to conduct a community health needs assessment every three years;  have a financial assistance policy (which means hospitals must adopt a policy that establishes eligibility criteria for free or discounted care); offer emergency medical care without discrimination; and conduct fair billing and collection practices.

Moore added hospitals will need to have an effective compliance program, a code of conduct plan, organization of a compensation committee, drafting and implementation of a conflict of interest policy, and organization of an independent board from the very beginning, in response to these new governance and policy requirements of health care reform.

The agenda concluded with the convocation breaking out into three roundtable session.

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