An answer about the future management of Allen County Regional Hospital could come in February 2019.
A task force studying the matter said thats when they expect to give their recommendation about whether the hospital should continue its current relationship with Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) or switch to a different company. The current contract with HCA ends in June 2020 and hospital leaders want to allow plenty of time to transition to a new company, if thats the route they choose.
First, though, theyll need to solicit proposals from hospital management companies. They also want to see what hospital employees, medical staff and the general public think about the issue.
The task force met Wednesday and laid out its timeline for the project, made changes to a Request for Proposals (RFP) and discussed plans to include hospital staff in the decision-making process.
Its important to hear what hospital employees and medical staff think about a potential management change, task force members said. They can reassure employees about any concerns with the process, answer questions and gain valuable insight to help them make a decision, they said.
I think weve already seen a little bit of anxiety present itself, Sean McReynolds, task force and board of trustees member, said. It may not be clear to them that were not here just to make a change. Were trying to find the best solution for everybody.
The goal is to partner with a company that meets the needs of the local community, Patti Boyd, board of trustees chairman who also leads the task force, said. That means task force members need to understand what the community wants and needs.
Boyd asked Paula Sell, human relations director, to set up forums for hospital employees. Employees would be asked to feedback via a private written survey.
Boyd asked Dr. Charles Wanker, chief of staff, to organize and educate medical staff on the matter.
Boyd also said its important to seek similar feedback from the community.
Potential hospital management companies need to explain how theyll meet the countys needs. The RFP outlines the boards expectations and includes such things as costs, ability to negotiate favorable contracts, physician recruitment and outpatient clinic doctors, as well as software for things like training, procedures, payroll or human resources.
Its important the companies clarify their annual administrative fee, costs for additional services and transitional costs to switch to new systems and procedures, if needed. For example, HCA provides the hospital with accounting, purchasing and IT software valued between $600,000 to $875,000, CEO Tony Thompson said. It will be important to know if those things are included or require additional fees, he said.
HCA also provides outpatient clinic services in key areas like cardiology, neurology, rheumatology and more, as well as a telemedicine program to more quickly diagnose possible stroke. Patients have expressed concern that a management change might mean changing the specialty physicians they see, both locally and at other facilities, Boyd said. Proposals need to be clear about the types of outpatient clinics and specialist referrals they offer.