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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

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4/17/2013 1:13:00 PM
Verde Valley Medical Center announces management restructure

Verde Valley Medical Center has announced a management restructure and three reductions in force in an effort to deal with significant industry pressures coming to bear on VVMC and hospitals across the country.

VVMC Interim President and CEO Barbara S. Dember, M.H.A., F.A.C.H.E., said that over the past two years, VVMC has experienced decreased volumes, a decline in reimbursement and has had its payor mix shift to 80 percent Medicare and AHCCCS - all while inflation has continued to rise and more unfunded government mandates have been enacted.

"As we worked on the budget for our next fiscal year, it became apparent that changes were going to be necessary in order for VVMC to uphold its commitments to our patients and community," Dember said.

"Our commitments are three-fold: to provide excellent quality of care by focusing our investments at the bedside and ensuring access to primary and specialty care in the Verde Valley; to care for the health of our communities through education, outreach and population health management; and to achieve an appropriate operating margin to ensure we can continue providing the services the community needs."

"These have been very difficult decisions for us. As we struggled with the budget and analyzed future projections for healthcare, it was clear that we needed to explore all options for reducing our costs."

According to Dember, an analysis of VVMC's organizational chart showed that VVMC had more managers than hospitals the same size or even larger.

"It became obvious our salary dollars need to be better focused at the bedside rather than in management positions," Dember said. "Additionally, we identified that our Imaging Services Department was overstaffed for our current volumes."

On April 16, VVMC eliminated five director and two manager positions. Three jobs in Imaging Services - two clerical and one technologist - were also eliminated. In all, 15 VVMC employees were affected: 12 were moved into lower management or staff roles, and three had their positions eliminated.

"Changes like these are never easy for an organization," Dember said. "They test us at every level, but they were necessary to ensure VVMC continues to serve our patients and communities, preserve our mission, support our vision, and sustain the scope of services and excellent quality our communities have come to expect."

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Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, April 22, 2013
Article comment by: Why Blame Others?

Funny how "significant industry pressure" is suddenly the scape goat for major missteps in key spending decisions. The management is far to focused on physical infrastructure at the expense patient care. They need to have a major refocus on HEALTHCARE and stop trying to be a corporate monopoly.

Posted: Saturday, April 20, 2013
Article comment by: why

There have been some real important posts made and Dan or someone at the Independent chooses to side with the wastfulness of the hospital administration. We the people of this valley deserve to have an open forum about big issues that involve so many citizens. Ms. Dember spent a fortune on herself to build her office and then grandstands to the public about waste and fear of spending. The hospital buys up buildings that they can't afford then makes sure that anyone hired is part time or relief with no benefits, but the doctors that have been hired have big contracts with all the benefits. Many of the doctors have very poor bedside manner yet the hospital has no quality control for them yet the underlings have to watch their every move and fear for their jobs. And by the way the hospital food is terrible now, I guess they have to pay for fancy offices for big egos.
Please don't be too protective of the greedy DAN!!!!!!

Posted: Friday, April 19, 2013
Article comment by: Wasteful Spenders

If they are so broke, why did they out bid everyone to buy the vacant athletic club at the corner of 10th and main? They have money to blow on non medical things and then they continue to provide sub par health care.

Posted: Thursday, April 18, 2013
Article comment by: Didn't they just do a big expensive remodel for Dember. Is it all ego at the top of staff.

I cannot believe the waste for a temp at the top!! How does Dember justify a major remodel for her office and then fire people. They looked hard for out- of-towners to hire and refuse to train people that already work there. What kind of snobs are running things there. We all want OUR hospital to make money and provide exellent care, but they waive it in our face that they must have shiny new offices while workers must fear for their jobs. I just had a procedure there and conversations were negative with other patients. I think that the people that running are hospital should ask the people at the bottom how to give smooth service. And I agree that they should not farm-out the bill people, I don't know if I talked with Flagstaff of India about my charge but it wasn't like the other person said "a local Verde person". I had the work done here and they should know the doctor and how darn much it is going to cost before hand. GET IT TOGETHER - WE COUNT ON OUR HOSPITAL TO KEEP US HEALTHY AT AN AFFORDABLE PRICE, AND STOP SPENDING BIG MONEY ON YOUR EGOS.

Posted: Thursday, April 18, 2013
Article comment by: The only thing nonprofit about VVMC is no taxes

If this so-called "nonprofit" hospital is like others in the US, they are bringing home obscene profits, tax-free.

That's all the nonprofit means to them -- they are exempt from income tax.

They likely operate at something like a 12-15% operating profit margin, which supports those Board trips to Hawaii and huge salaries to top executives.

And God help you if you're ever hospitalized there without insurance. You'll pay those outrageous prices with no recourse and there's a good chance it will bankrupt you.

So much for community good will.

Put me down for saying we want a truly nonprofit hospital serving our community that charges us reasonable prices based on actual costs, and is in business to serve the people first and foremost not themselves.

Posted: Thursday, April 18, 2013
Article comment by: This hospital has priced itself out of usefulness. Dember s salary is still sky high for a temp'.

Have you noticed that the cafeteria food has turned to inedible. The admin' structure still doesn't get the message that small towns like friendly service and that we all know eachother and we all talk. If you call the hosp' billing and try to get an answer you have to talk to someone that isn't allowed to look up your stuff, then someone who is short with you and too busy. They don't train the locals to do all the work and the ladies in town know how snobby the medical field has gotten.. Why act too good for the customers and then charge them top dollar. Why let doctors act like everyone has to take their poor bedside manner furthering the aloofness of average doctors. Face it, their have been numerous cases of poor healthcare by this system and they should be practicing healthCARE !!! Get off your high horse medical people and SERVE THE PEOPLE and while your at it only hire locals and DON'T OUTSOURCE SERVICES !!! We the people of the valley are watching.

Posted: Thursday, April 18, 2013
Article comment by: Out of thin air, partly

... is how hospitals establish charges.

Maximum charges reimbursed by Insurance and Medicare are considered, but, unless things have changed in recent years, most hospitals have no earthly idea how much any particular procedure actually costs.

In construction, when estimating the cost for concrete placement, the contractor calculates costs for every related activity. Known expenses such as machine time for clearing the site and excavating the footings, purchasing forms, tying and placing rebar, concrete, concrete placement and finishing, saw cutting, wrecking, cleaning and hauling forms are added to determine, as closely as possible, what the concrete activity will cost. To that total, overhead, profit, bond and insurance premiums are added to determine the total cost.

Hospitals, like contractors, work with known facility, equipment, medication and staff requirements for a standard procedure, yet do not even try to calculate the sums of those known costs to determine a charge for that procedure.

Thus, questioning a $11.74 charge for a Tylenol typically would bring a shoulder shrug from the hospital payment clerk.

Or, the CEO.

Compare it to your car dealership service center charging $100 just to look at your car, even if nothing is wrong-- they have to make money.

That is ironic for a not-for-profit hospital, though.

Keep in mind, though, most people are vociferously resistant to trying to change
"the world's best healthcare system," even though it demonstrably isn't.

It is merely what we are used to.

Posted: Thursday, April 18, 2013
Article comment by: Tom w

They need to address the issue about the treatment of patient and there families. The staff acts like they are kings and queens. They act like it is there way or no way. Patients have rights as to how things will be done. My wife was there 2 years ago for an out patient procedure when it was time for them to prep her. They said I could not go in with her. She told them point blank he goes with me or no procedure. The staff got down right nasty. We both have had things done at Yavapai medical and other out patient centers. They have always said if this makes you more comfortable then this is what we will do. No arguments from the staff. Need to update your out patient area so when patient are done there family members can be there with them after the procedure. My wife was not happy when she woke up to find she was not covered properly and the curtains open. There are other options for people if you want there business earn it. The nurses were more worried about eating cake and talking personal issues than the patient

Posted: Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Article comment by: What about affordability?

Note carefully that none of VVMC's 3 stated commitments include affordability.

That's unfortunate.

When you charge someone $11.74 for one tylenol, no wonder you have decreasing patient volumes.

When hospitals are making these obscene profits, and do things like send their Board of Directors to Hawaii every year, no wonder regular people do everything under their power to avoid them.

Unfortunately, Obamacare is aiding and abetting this increasingly unaffordable medical business model.

Obamacare is putting the independent doctor's private practices under tremendous pressure. Docs are quitting private practice and becoming employees of VVMC. That reduces our local options, increases prices, and reduces quality.

That's why we should do everything we can to do support those remaining docs who are independent and in private practice. We get better pricing and service when docs are in business for themselves than when they're employees.

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