By David Martin

Hospital kills agreement with Castle Rock district


A sudden termination of an agreement between Castle Rock Hospital District and Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County has left administrators at CRHD surprised.

“The affiliation was terminated without cause,” CRHD CEO Bailie Dockter said in a media release. “We were surprised by the news, as (MHSC) had never informed us of any dissatisfaction with the affiliation. Because of our commitment to patients, we would have promptly and conscientiously addressed any the hospital’s concerns.”

The agreement allowed specialty providers at MHSC to host visit patients at CDHD’s clinic and provide specialty care at Castle Rock Medical Center.

Dockter said the hospital district’s administration was first notified with an email regarding the agreement’s termination, followed by a written, formal letter. She also called the development disheartening as CRHD would have addressed any concerns the hospital had.

According to Gary Collins, marketing and public relations director at MHSC, terminating the agreement was solely a business decision.

“As per the agreement, the hospital has given Castle Rock a six months prior written notice and the affiliation will terminate on June 5, 2017,” Collins wrote in an email.

Days of cash on hand refer to the number of days an organization can operate with the amount of cash it has in its reserves. Collins said the hospital aims to increase its days of cash on hand and have looked a number of ways to reign in costs. The agreement with CRHD was identified as an area where the return on investment wasn’t as good as it could be.

“This affiliation agreement, encouraged by the county, was created due to the financial stress that Castle Rock was in at the time,” Collins wrote. “The arrangement to lease office space at Castle Rock for our specialists and also use their imaging and lab services was an effort to assist in their situation.”

The decision to end the agreement was made by the hospital’s board of trustees Nov. 2, 2016. Collins said the hospital didn’t take the decision lightly, but found itself in a position where its number of days cash on hand had decreased as a result of the hospital’s purchase of the former College Hill building. While the formal agreement will end, Collins said the hospital and CRHD can maintain a positive relationship.

Dockter said a few patients had questions about their care and have received misinformation regarding what they can and can’t do, which prompted the district to issue a release regarding patients’ rights.

According to the release, patients have a right to request where they would like to have their lab tests performed, just as patients have their choice of pharmacy. While Dockter declined to comment on concerns regarding if she fears competition from MHSC, sections of the release do mention the clinic’s affordability and that CRHD takes radiology and lab orders from outside its clinic.

“Castle Rock Radiology and Lab take orders from providers in many surrounding hospitals, including (MHSC.)” the release states. “Most Castle Rock services, including office visits and labs, are substantially more affordable than those same services offered elsewhere in the county.”

Collins said the hospital aims to provide high-quality healthcare services and follow its mission to be a regional provider fulfilling the needs of communities.

During the past couple of years, CRHD’s financial footing has strengthened considerably.

The hospital district was facing financial catastrophe three years ago and received one-time funding from the Sweewtater County Commissioners to help carry the district until Mission Health of Utah was able to step in and take control of the Villa and Castle Rock Convalescent Center.

“We are financially stronger than we have ever been and expect to remain so, irrespective of this news from the hospital,” the media release states. “We look forward to continuing to provide the quality health care you have come to expect of the staff, services, and facilities at (CRHD.)”


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