The Critical Access Hospital Recognition certificate was established by the NRHRC and the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy to recognize the excellent work in critical access hospitals (CAH) throughout the country. The recognition “promotes excellence and innovation and honors the achievements and results of CAHs as well as promoting the sharing of successful strategies,” according to the news release. This year, MRH was one of only two critical access hospitals nationwide chosen for recognition.
“Closure of rural hospitals can be devastating to rural and frontier communities, denying local citizens timely access to emergency, inpatient, outpatient, long term care and sometimes even ambulance services,” said Sally Buck, CEO at the NRHRC. “A major strategy of the Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility Program is to ensure that the financial performance of CAHs is sustainable to keep the hospitals open and providing high quality, accessible, and community-responsive services as well as to share the best practices of how to reverse ongoing financial loss in critical access hospitals, and, in effect, turn around hospital performance from weak to strong.”
MRH’s financial challenges began in 2011 when the move into the new facility caused major disruptions in the financial cycle. The financial difficulties were compounded by an interruption in MRH’s Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) payments, due to technicalities and changes in legislation. The DSH program assists hospitals that provide a large amount of uncompensated care to their community. By early 2012, MRH was in a severe financial crisis, with less than one day of cash on hand, accounts receivable at over one hundred days, and an operating margin at negative 5.7 percent. Due to a late mortgage payment in May of 2012, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which guaranteed MRH’s loan, stepped in and began working with the hospital board and administration on a financial turnaround plan.
“MRH made strategic financial, operational, and business office improvements, such as renegotiating contracts with insurance companies, strengthening their visiting physician program to expand services, and bringing in an in-house Medicaid eligibility worker to work with uninsured low-income patients,” hospital officials said in the news release. “Another significant factor of the financial turnaround was the opportunity for MRH to again participate in the [DSH] program which helps [the hospital] provide healthcare to those that cannot afford to pay, and the community’s assistance in raising the necessary seed money to participate in that program was pivotal.”
“Moab Regional Hospital is dedicated to ensuring that the community has access to high quality healthcare, and financial stability is an important component in reaching this goal,” said Robb Austin, Moab Regional Hospital CEO. “We are grateful for the support of our community in helping us raise the seed money for the DSH and indebted to our physicians, employees, and Board of Directors for their teamwork, commitment, and personal sacrifices that helped us overcome our financial issues. Now that we have achieved financial stability, we look forward to strengthening our services and ensuring that MRH is our community’s first choice for care. ”