A Letter From CEO, Bill Patten
On behalf of the board of directors, the employees, and the medical staff of Taos Health Systems (THS) and Holy Cross Hospital, please accept this expression of sincere gratitude and appreciation for the positive vote in the recent mill levy increase special election.
By way of review, last fall the THS Board asked the Taos County Commissioners for financial help to assist us with the purchase of medical equipment and making repairs on Holy Cross Hospital. Due to changes in federal and state reimbursements over the last five years, we have delayed many needed equipment purchases and deferred many important maintenance projects; the current list exceeds $10,000,000.
As we shared during our many community presentations, rural healthcare providers face an increasingly difficult dilemma; reimbursements for unpaid hospital visits, Medicare and Medicaid payments are shrinking while our costs continue to grow. Over the past few years THS made difficult choices in an effort to survive. Examples of these choices include laying off 35-40 employees several years ago and closing our Peñasco Clinic last year.
In spite of our ongoing financial losses, we continued to subsidize numerous departments/services on which we lost money. We did this because we felt these services were critical for the health of our community. We realized that, without help from the county, we could not continue this trend for very long.
This situation is faced by many rural hospitals in New Mexico and across the country. A very recent example … just two weeks ago the hospital in Las Vegas, New Mexico closed its obstetrics unit.
Had the mill levy vote failed, we would have been forced to make some very difficult and unpopular choices. But thanks to the “YES” vote of 2,323 residents, we will not have to go down that path! This special election had the highest turnout in Taos history; a total of 3,057 Taos County residents cast votes on March 8!
Moving forward in the coming weeks and months, we will work on the following steps:
We will update and reprioritize the list of needed medical equipment purchases and building maintenance and repair needs. The list will take into consideration new items that will be identified during the budgeting process for our upcoming fiscal year. It is my sense that we will set aside an amount of money (I am thinking $300,000 to $500,000) in a contingency fund of sorts just in case something breaks that we had not planned to replace. Over the first year and one half, I think we will spend about $2 to $2.5 million — making a huge dent in the backlog of needed projects. The remaining money will be spread over the remaining two and one half years. The money provided by this mill levy increase will allow us to make significant progress on the $10 million in needed repairs and equipment purchases; please keep in mind that the money will not be used for supplies or employee salaries. This spending schedule will depend on the ability of Taos County to issue bonds guaranteed by the mill levy revenue.
While we work to make sure our list is prioritized properly, we will also work with Taos County to determine exactly how the money will be transferred to the hospital as well as the process by which equipment purchases and needed repairs are prepared and presented to the Taos County Commissioners; the third step in our approval process. Step No. 1 will be administration approving management recommendations. Step No. 2 will be board approval of administration recommendations.
- As I understand the process, all purchases/expenditures that we want to make will be debated in open session by the Taos County Commissioners. Once approved, all projects will be listed and tracked here, on the Taos Health Systems website.
It truly is a new era at Taos Health Systems and Holy Cross Hospital. We have had a positive bottom-line for the past eight months. We are working to update our employee compensation program, making sure that our employees are paid a fair and competitive wage. We are working with our medical staff to determine how we can grow our service menu, allowing more care to be provided within our local community. And we are actively tracking our patient satisfaction scores to make sure that our high quality clinic services are complemented by great customer service.
Thank you for trusting us, thank you for giving us this chance. You have my word that my team and I will do everything in our power to make you proud of your local hospital and healthcare system!
- Bill Patten, CEO of Taos Health Systems & Holy Cross Hospital
Thank you for passing Holy Cross Hospital's Mill Levy!
The special election results are in and the mill levy vote passed. This was one of the biggest special election turnouts for Taos County with 3,057 total voters.
The results are:
We are very thankful to the voters of Taos County for supporting Holy Cross Hospital. We will keep you updated about our progress with the new funds for the hospital here. Please check back frequently to stay updated.
Our Current Mill Levy Priority Projects
As part of our ongoing effort to keep the community informed about Holy Cross Medical Center, we will be releasing regular updates regarding the use of the mill levy money. The mill levy was approved in 2016 with resounding county support and we haven't released many updates regarding the use of the money because we haven't been able to use much of it up until now. Below you will see a list of our current project priorities. This list includes an estimated budget for each project. If you would like to learn more about the status of each project, you can use the list on the left to access information on the status of each individual project. Not all of these projects have updates yet, only the items in blue will include additional information. We will update each project as we collect information relevant to it's progress.
|Digital Portable x-ray Retrofit||Compray||April, 2018||Imaging||$97,000.00|
|EKG System||GE Healthcare||Mar, 2018||Cardiopulmonary||$166,383.00|
|EKG System Hardware||GE Healthcare||Mar, 2018||Cardiopulmonary||$5,383.20|
|Pentax Scope Upgrade||Pentax||Nov, 2017||Surgery||$49,847.95|
|Energy savings project||Trane||Progress billed on a monthly basis||Plant Operations||$1,522,000.00|
|Ultrasound Machine||Fuji||Mar, 2018||Emergency Room||$65,700.00|
|Medical Gas Air Dryer||Health Choice Enterprises||Mar, 2018||Plant Operations||$15,916.00|
Digital Portable x-ray Retrofit
The DR Portable was something we just did this week and will not probably have the equipment for about 3 weeks-month. This will replace broken equipment and end of life equipment, equipment that is over 20 years old. This will move us to a digital environment in which portable images taken will be visually available to the Emergency Room clinicians in 4 seconds at the portable, in the case of emergencies, they will not have to wait for us to go back to the department and send the image to the PACS if they cannot wait to, it will be available right there on the machine. The retrofit part of this will take our third x-ray room from CR to DR (computer radiology to digital radiology) and speed up our imaging from about 30-45 seconds to about 3-5 seconds allowing for us to not only be more efficient, but also produce a higher quality image that has more definition and specificity.
The MUSE EKG project is a software and interface system that collects and manages the EKGs done here at the hospital. Without it, we simply have to print the EKG and scan it into the medical records. Now we will be able to manage them all electronically (once installed in June, 2018) by simply sending them to the medical records. And the reading physician, either the Cardiologist or Dr. White, can do it electronically on the MUSE software.
EKG System Hardware
The hardware addition to our EKG systems involves Wifi cards and barcode scanners that further optimize the process of managing EKGs for Holy Cross Medical Center.