Navajo-Hopi Nations,Flagstaff & Winslow News
Thu, Oct. 29

Hospital is “continuing to recover” Hamblen says


“It took a while to get that far down and it will take a while to get back up,” he said.

Medic Air Transport, (MAT) who have had a helicopter grounded at Winslow Memorial Hospital, has decided to leave the facility. Hamblen said arrangements have been made with Flagstaff Medical Center so that Winslow has priority with their helicopter ambulance. He added if they are unable to get to Winslow in an appropriate time amount, they will organize a transport with another facility.

He stated there would be little time lost compared to previously due to a patient being prepped for their flight while the helicopter is on route from Flagstaff.

He added the hospital received no funding from the helicopter due to MAT providing and charging for the service.

Hamblen said he would be bringing the newly created budget for the facility to the Winslow Memorial Hospital Board of Directors at their next meeting. He thought it would still show a little in debt, but not the barrels of red ink predicted.

During his time here, Hamblen has also set up a Medial Staff Executive Committee. The Committee is made up of Winslow Indian Health Center’ Dr. Perry Mitchell as Chief of Staff, WMH’s Dr. Michael Pearson as Vice Chief of Staff and WIHC’s Dr. Cindy Nielson as Secretary. Two more members will be selected in the future to finish out the committee.

As far as billing patients, Hamblen said changes had been made and collecting at least part of the $5 million in charges is a possibility.

He has also been working closely with B.N.S.F.’s Larry Kreagar at communicating with United Health Care to see what arrangements can be worked out so that railroad employee insurance can be accepted at Winslow Memorial.

He reported employee moral has improved and regular meetings are being held with department heads in order to get dialogue started. “We want folks to have a good professional experience at Winslow Memorial,” he said.

He added the medical supply condition is excellent and that most of the hospital’s vendors are back within the 60-day pay period.

Hamblen brought up the topic of WMH and WIHC joining forces sometime in the future. Dialogue between the two facilities has begun with the goal of creating one medical campus that offers service to both Native American’s and non-Native Americans.

Currently, federal regulations prevent WIHC doctors from working with non-Native American patients, but Hamblen believes if Winslow offered up a united front, those regulations could be changed.

He believes combining the two facilities would save both the Winslow community and the federal government a large amount of money. “We need to make our limited health care dollars work for us,” he said.

Hamblen reported the hospital is on a positive trend. The sell of the Bashas’ Building to the City of Winslow for $250,000 is a factor in that trend. The “one-time shot of cash” went to the facility’s general fund.

He also reported WMH has a new Chief Financial Officer, Lee Holter. Hamblen said Holter has been in the health care field at least as long as 13 years and came to Winslow from LaPaz Regional Medical Center in Parker where he was CFO. “Lee has a nice set of credential and talents and he is exercising them everyday,” he added.

Hamblen and the hospital board are currently preparing for the annual shareholders meeting, which is scheduled for April 7 at 7 p.m. in the Winslow High School Auditorium. He said there would be a “State of the Hospital” address that evening.

Hamblen concluded the meeting by stating the hospital is currently going through a Strategic Planning process, which is gathering opinions from key healthcare position employees at both WMH and WIHC, as well as community leaders. The information is being gathered and will be combined with financial expert opinion.

“Operations continue to improve and there is only more to come,” he concluded.

Hamblen was hired as an interim CEO and was to remain here for 90 days, which would have ended on March 18. The board and Hamblen have decided he will remain at WMH until June 1st with an option to extend that into long-term arrangements.

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