By Jackie Medland
President/CNO, Highlands-Cashiers Hospital
Fittingly, I spoke about my first 100 days as President and CNO of Highlands-Cashiers Hospital in my first column last month. Now that we’ve hosted two Town Hall meetings – one on the hospital campus and one at the Cashiers Community Center, I’m pleased to say that our real dialogue has truly begun. First allow me to thank our invested community, hospital and foundation board members who were present at those sessions; the combined attendance at both July meetings exceeded 60 community members. It was obvious that our guests put thought into their comments and questions, and I appreciate how respectfully opinions were shared. Our candid conversation covered important ground.
I have a clear idea of how the community feels about the care, services and programs in Highlands-Cashiers. Concerns ranged from the simple and easy-to-fix, like repairing the uneven entryway floor at our Physicians’ Clinic, to complex issues like specialty care coverage (ensuring community access to specialists through a variety of means, including telemedicine and satellite clinics), provider stability (retaining clinicians), plans for new technology investments, the average numbers of patients our physicians see daily (~ 20 per day), the search for effective care coordination when patients cross state lines, and how we might gain insight into patient needs by examining population data about year-round versus seasonal residents. This feedback has already allowed me to act; in fact I’ve already signed the purchase order to fix our entryway.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t address another urgent issue raised in both meetings: the Mission Health-BCBSNC contract dispute. We share your concerns. Though none of us knows how this will end, our goal is to negotiate in good-faith with Blue Cross and obtain a contract with them. That’s been hard, because BCBSNC has literally refused to even speak with us about a new contract. We don’t want our patients to experience care disruptions, and I urge readers to make your voices heard by Blue Cross, because you, as health care consumers, are the most important stakeholders. To learn more about ways you can advocate for healthcare in our region, go to standwithmission.org, which addresses the most frequently asked questions about this critical issue.
Moving forward, I will use the various concerns raised in our initial Town Halls to steer my column’s focus throughout the remainder of the year, including information about the health care industry, emerging trends in healthcare, and the evolution of Highlands-Cashiers Hospital as a vital member of Mission Health. I will write about Critical Access Hospitals next month: what features define them, the challenges they face, Highlands-Cashiers Hospital’s role in the regional Critical Access Hospital landscape, and what this means for patients.
We shape healthcare most effectively if we’re all at the table with our sleeves rolled up and ready to share and work together. I look forward to more positive exchanges like these interactive forums. Continued dialogue will ensure that HCH serves this community in the best ways possible.
Until then, I remain yours in partnership for a stronger, healthier community.