Over the last few years, the healthcare industry has continually changed, with rural community hospitals like ours facing the strongest headwinds. The recent state approval of MCMC joining Adventist Health has strengthened our ability to thrive in the future and bring the very best healthcare to our local area.
Current Industry Realities
The American healthcare industry is in the midst of a perfect storm of skyrocketing costs, staffing shortages, the end of government pandemic aid and stagnant payer reimbursement. In the context of these trends, operating as a stand-alone organization is increasingly rare and challenging.
Hospitals and health systems across the country are struggling financially. The already razor-thin margins on which most operate are getting worse as expenses rise and revenue falls or remains flat.
- More than half of the hospitals in the country will end the year with negative margins, and expenses are expected to be $135 billion higher than they were just last year.
- In Oregon, the percentage of hospitals posting a negative margin is outpacing the nationwide percentage of 53%.
The pandemic was monumentally difficult for frontline staff, and led to an industry-wide mass exodus, especially among bedside providers.
- Hospital employment is down 105,000 from pre-pandemic levels.
- Recruiting and retaining employees is growing more and more expensive, as there is a small pool of available talent.
- Rural health systems feel these effects much more acutely, with only 10% of primary care and 8% of specialty providers practicing in rural areas.
- Even in cases where providers are available, many facilities do not have adequate support staff to maintain their normal services.
The pandemic and changing patient-preferences have impacted patient care in ways that can be felt across health system, particularly in rural systems such as MCMC.
- Patients delayed care throughout the pandemic, resulting in more advanced diseases and sicker patients.
- Telehealth services are becoming more widely requested, changing the way we provide visits and consultations.
- Urgent care and free-standing surgical centers offer alternative options for care, from patients who would traditionally come to us for these services.
Like many hospitals and health systems across the country, MCMC is not immune from these industry realities, especially regarding staffing. Provider shortages and other pressure we face as a community health organization have led us to make hard choices in order to preserve local access to other kinds of care including:
- Limiting medical oncology services offered at Celilo Cancer Center
- Taking on considerable increased expenses from necessary reliance
on locum providers
Our top priority is ensuring that we can meet the needs of those we serve in the midst of the ever-changing environment around us, and we will continue to address challenges head on and search for solutions. In the meantime, we remain focused on using our resources as efficiently as possible, supporting our staff and delivering high-quality care our patients deserve.
Our Progress & Looking Ahead to the Future
In the midst of this challenging healthcare landscape, we have made real progress in our work to ensure we can provide access to local healthcare for our patients now and for years to come.
With our talented physician recruiter, Audra Schmidt, we have hired 21 care providers, including 9 primary care providers. We’ve also introduced several innovations to our recruitment efforts, including the Grow Your Own Medical Assistant program, to create a pipeline of trained support staff. Through this initiative, we filled 10 open MA positions.
In the past year we have also increased support of our current staff through:
- Changing nurse leadership structure and more opportunities for leadership development training
- Additional cross-training and creation of training programs
- Workflow changes for optimized scheduling and case management
- Consolidation of beds, facilities and units to better allocate staff and resources
As a large organization, Adventist Health has a broader reach, extended network and additional resources, all of which can take our recruitment activities to the next level. Together, MCMC and Adventist Health intend to maintain and enhance the immediate and long-term financial viability of MCMC, enabling us to make needed investments in the healthcare campus, technology, programs and people. To read more about MCMC joining Adventist Health, click here.