Contact Us

We want to hear from you! If you have any questions or comments concerning South Central Kansas Medical Center, our services or this web site, please feel free to contact us.

 

           

123 Street Avenue, City Town, 99999

(123) 555-6789

email@address.com

 

You can set your address, phone number, email and site description in the settings tab.
Link to read me page with more information.

MP900402701[1]_opt.jpg

SCKMC Officially Approved for Sole Community

July 31, 2015

Virgil Watson, CEO of SCKMC, received word via e-mail on June 26th that the hospital has been approved for a change in their Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) designation. The hospital received the official notification of approval on July 31st. The new designation is called Sole Community Hospital status, a classification that is anticipated to produce hundreds of thousands in additional revenue for the medical center each year.  

Arkansas City, KS – Increasing reimbursement has been one of the key business goals of South Central Kansas Medical Center for quite some time. A goal that has been pushed to the forefront since the construction of a multi-million dollar replacement facility in 2011, and continued cuts to State and Federal programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. Any day now, hospital administrators have now received official notification that they are a lot closer to achieving that goal.

Virgil Watson, CEO of SCKMC, received word via e-mail on June 26th that the hospital has been approved for a change in their Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) designation. The hospital received the official notification of approval on July 31st. The new designation is called Sole Community Hospital status, a classification that is anticipated to produce hundreds of thousands in additional revenue for the medical center each year.  

“This is a huge step for the hospital. The sole community hospital status essentially provides the hospital with better reimbursement for the services we are already providing. We are looking at about $400,000 annually for these payments to increase to the hospital,” said Holly Harper, SCKMC’s Chief Financial Officer.

The change in reimbursement applies only to Medicare inpatients, which make up roughly 80% of all SCKMC inpatients. Medicare patients have service reimbursed through Federal funding, resulting in significant impact to the hospital any time reimbursements are cut.

“We continue to see Medicare cuts in every budget that goes through the Federal government, and I don’t think that’s going to change. You have to remember that Medicare, most of the time, doesn’t cover our costs for the services we provide. When you qualify as a sole community provider then Medicare recognizes that and says ‘we should pay you more reimbursement for the services that you are performing for those inpatients’,” Harper said.

Getting to this point has not been easy. Hospital administrators have attempted for years to have the status changed.

“It took way too long to get it done. This was not an easy thing to do, simply because we had to rely on other people to give us the information. We had to get our information for the percentage of patients we serve in our area and who we are losing to Oklahoma and to Wellington. That information was difficult to come by,” Watson said.

Watson was determined to complete the application process and made it a top priority since taking over as CEO in January.

“Somebody once said, “Desperation is the Mother of invention” and we just needed it done. There is no reason why we should not qualify. If all it was was data then data is more readily available today than it was four years ago. The world is so much smaller today than it was four-years ago,” Watson said.

Watson enlisted the help of Wichita accounting firm, BKD to find the required data.

“I relentlessly talked to BKD about finding us another way to get this information. Once the word got out with BKD, through whatever network they have, everybody wanted to jump onboard to help. I appreciate that,” Watson said.

Through their contacts, BKD was eventually able to find the information required for the sole community status application online.

“Once we found the website, it gave us the initial information that we needed to start the process. There were some problems with the website because CMS did not see it as a valid source for data, so we had to back it up with Holly (Harper) sending out data and having the Kansas Hospital Association verify that it was accurate. So there were several hoops, but it was just perseverance and desperation. It was something that we should have been eligible for, should have been able to accomplish much easier in the past, but I refused to let them tell me that they couldn’t get it done,” Watson said.

And while Watson spearheaded the project, he is quick to say it would not have been possible without the efforts of an entire team.

“The biggest accomplishment out of this is the teamwork that had to happen within the hospital. Between the CFO, myself, BKD, Brian Perkins out of Senator Moran’s office, KHA, and everybody that was involved in trying to get CMS every piece of information they required in order to achieve this designation,” Watson said.

Sole community hospital status opens the doors to several other programs. Hospital staff plans on using the status to apply for at least two other programs that could bring a significant increase to the hospital’s revenue, including the 340B pharmacy program which alone could bring an additional $500,000 in reimbursements.

“When they look at (sole community status), they can see we’re dependent on the Federal and State programs so it really helps us with the disproportionate share payments and things that we get trying to keep the reimbursement for the small hospitals. But again, this was a stepping stone into the 340B and we are also working on the rural health clinic status for our downtown clinic, and that’s another $400,000 potentially for the hospital. So in the big scheme of things we are looking at about $1.3 million every year that we can bring cash back to the hospital and that’s more than what our second half obligation is for the (hospital construction project) bonds,” Harper said.

Although hospital administration predicts that declining reimbursements will always be a struggle for rural facilities, with the additional programs and increased reimbursement, SCKMC will be able to turn their focus towards other priorities, including physician recruitment, staff training, and enhanced services for patient care.

“It’s a huge benefit for the hospital. It’s a really big step in the right direction, getting increased reimbursement. We will be able to provide more for our patients, our employees, and to the community,” Harper said.