Struggling Townsend hospital talking with Billings Clinic

2014-02-02T06:40:00Z 2014-02-02T23:53:04Z Struggling Townsend hospital talking with Billings ClinicBy AL KNAUBER Independent Record The Billings Gazette
February 02, 2014 6:40 am  • 

HELENA — Broadwater Health Center in Townsend is in talks with Billings Clinic that could create a relationship between the two health care providers.

“We’re just kind of in the shopping stages, if you will, to see what Billings Clinic has done for other communities,” said Kyle Hopstad, the hospital’s administrator.

Jim Duncan, president of the Billings Clinic Foundation, agrees that talks are in their infancy and said no agreements have been reached.

“We have agreed to visit with them about what ways Billings Clinic could help,” he said.

Billings Clinic’s relationship with other hospitals and clinics varies, Duncan said, and is tailored to the individual needs of each institution.

The clinic has relationships with 10 critical-access hospitals ranging from northern Wyoming to across Eastern Montana — the first of which was Pioneer Medical Center in Big Timber. That relationship was established in 1997, Duncan said.

Regional organization

“We’re quite a regional organization and have been for years,” Duncan said.

Providing electronic medical records and technology for hospitals is a significant part of what Billings Clinic provides, Duncan said.

The goal of Billings Clinic, he said, “is to have high-quality, sustainable services for the people who live in those communities.”

The clinic is able to send physicians to these small hospitals and schedule services that are not available in those facilities.

An affiliate relationship is being established with the clinic in Colstrip.

Billings Clinic’s first relationship with a regional clinic was in Red Lodge during the mid-1980s.

The talks with Broadwater Health Center are part of a road map created in November 2012 by a group that included the hospital’s board and its foundation. Townsend and Broadwater County officials were also a part of it, Hopstad said.

The group set out a strategic imperative that addressed immediate issues that included a shutdown by regulators that displaced nursing home patients and stopped services for a time in July 2012.

Help from Bozeman Deaconess Hospital, Hopstad said, assisted the health center to fine-tune its revenue cycle, which aided cash flow.

Strategic plan

That strategic plan, he said, included efforts to continue to improve patient care, recruit more health care providers and to look for partnerships for the hospital.

And the health center has made progress on that plan, which Hopstad said he attributes to the community’s effort in these past 14 months.

The hospital works with two networks to lower what it pays for medical supplies as well as to help negotiating with rate payers and assistance for its revenue network.

These are among the services that Billings Clinic offers its affiliates.

Billings Clinic recognizes how important small communities are in the delivery of health care, Hopstad said.

Billings Clinic has a comprehensive list of services it can provide for smaller facilities, he continued, adding, “What we have to determine is if those offerings are in line with what our needs are.”

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