|NBH designs care models for the future|
Sep 11, 2013
(Sept. 10, 2013) Northern Berkshire Healthcare has announced a series of steps to ensure the continued viability of the local healthcare system in the face of declining patient volumes and revenues. “Our strategy is designed to make sure that NBH is here to care for the people of North Berkshire into the future,” said NBH President and CEO Timothy Jones. “The challenges facing us are significant, and we are acting today to preserve our local hospital. This will affect about ten percent of our staff in some way, although we won’t know exact numbers until the process is complete.”
· North Adams Regional Hospital will open a new inpatient service that expands the capability to provide telemetry care
· The hospital will open a dedicated space for its Joint Replacement Center
· The hospital will focus on growing its surgical services and improving the patient experience in the Emergency Department
· NARH will transition its inpatient psychiatric service (Greylock Pavilion) to an outpatient program
· Inpatient pediatric services will shift to an outpatient pediatric “observation” model
· NBH has identified additional expense reductions to respond to the financial impacts of the Affordable Care Act and sequestration.
“The rapidly changing healthcare environment demands that we act now, to be viable for our community in the future,” said Tim Jones, President and CEO of Northern Berkshire Healthcare. “Like most hospitals we have experienced a decline in patient volumes as services shift to outpatient models – a drop of about ten percent in one year, in our case. We’re designing services to meet the needs of our current volume of patients.”
As part of the changes, NARH will create a single 16-bed inpatient unit with all private rooms. The Joint Replacement Center of Northern Berkshire will open in the former critical care unit with private rooms, a rehab gym, and a dining space for joint replacement patients.
In creating the new inpatient model, hospital officials said it is designed to improve safety and quality of care, and offer flexibility for the hospital to staff to volumes.
Psychiatric services will be transitioned from an inpatient model to an outpatient service by early January. In addition to individual and group therapy, medication management, and other outpatient psychiatric services, a psychiatric “pod” in the Emergency Department will provide crisis treatment. Patients requiring admission will be transferred to Berkshire Medical Center or other facilities.
The changes announced today are the outcome of a strategic plan approved by the NBH Board of Trustees. The plan also calls for NBH to develop partnerships with other care providers in the region, to structure NARH to meet community needs, and to invest in potential growth areas including surgical services, orthopedics, wound care, diabetes care, and healthy communities initiatives. “The trend has been obvious for years that more care will be provided outside of a hospital setting,” said Jones.
“We have also engaged experts from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston to help us create an Emergency Department that is unrivaled in the area,” said Jones. “We are using the tools of Lean process improvement, including focused ‘Kaizen’ events. Most recently we set the goal to reduce waiting times, and we are getting patients into rooms faster than ever and reducing the amount of time they wait to see a doctor.”
“NBH, like all hospitals and care providers in the nation, will be subject to massive change as the federal Affordable Care Act takes effect and as models of care evolve,” Jones continued. “The NBH of the future will have to be quicker to adapt, more collaborative, and will look different than it does today. The certainty is this: that a responsive, financially sound NBH will be here to care for our families, friends and neighbors.”
The Affordable Care Act will significantly impact NBH as it will all hospitals. The estimated loss of revenue in the next fiscal year for NBH is as high as $2.5 million. The federal budget “sequestration” reduced Medicare payments to NBH by approximately $200,000 in the current fiscal year; that amount is expected to reach $400,000 or more in fiscal 2014, which begins October 1.
NBH is comprised of North Adams Regional Hospital, the Visiting Nurse Association & Hospice of Northern Berkshire, and Northern Berkshire Healthcare Physicians Group and serves a population of about 40,000 people.