This past year brought about great change to the healthcare industry, nationally and right here in Watertown. Hospitals across the country are working diligently to adapt to the changes brought by the Affordable Care Act, including: cuts to Medicare reimbursements, the need for new policies and procedures to comply with the law and the emphasis on improving quality.
"In 2013, healthcare reform proceeded at full speed making it a challenging time to be in healthcare. Hospitals are experiencing cuts in reimbursement, decreased utilization and increased costs due to government regulation," said Jill Fuller, CEO of Prairie Lakes. "In spite of these challenges, Prairie Lakes had a great year in 2013. We are well positioned to service the region with great doctors and new services in 2014."
Prairie Lakes Healthcare System has managed to meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act, while also growing services to meet the needs of the region, adding physician, meeting quality standards and remaining financially strong. Following are a few highlights from 2013:
- Eight physicians joined Prairie Lakes: Dr. Steven Feeney, hospitalist; Dr. Thomas Lechner, hospitalist; Dr. William Miner, hospitalist; Dr Jennifer Jones, cardiologist; Dr. Jeffrey Kowitz, pulmonologist; Dr. Henri Lanctin, urologist; Dr. James Bear, emergency medicine; and Dr. Leighton Singh, emergency medicine.
- Three new oncology outreach sites were established. Dr. Homam Alkaied, medical oncologist and hematologist, now sees patients in Appleton, Dawson, and Madison, Minn.
- Prairie Lakes opened the region's first full-time clinic focused on the specialty of pulmonology in August. Dr. Kowitz is the region's first full-time pulmonologist. This led to the start up of pulmonary rehabilitation program in October.
- Prairie Lakes entered into a partnership with Minneapolis-based Consulting Radiologists Limited in April. This allows for 24/7 radiology coverage through virtual transmission of images as well as 24/7 telephone access to CRL radiologists to discuss cases and interpretations. In addition, this has allowed the radiology department to expand imaging exams offered as well as offer new procedures.
- Dr. Lanctin, urologist, introduced cryo-ablation therapy and performed the first procedure at Prairie Lakes in November. Cryotherapy is a minimally invasive procedure that delivers freezing temperatures to the prostate destroying cancerous cells with minimal side-effects.
- Dr. Evelio Garcia and Dr. Salem Maaliki, cardiologists, began offering an innovative treatment for severe left heart failure known as Biventricular Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD). A biventricular ICD may be used to provide a more balanced method of controlling rapid heartbeat. The biventricular ICD detects when the heart is beating at a faster than normal rate and shocks it back to normal.
- Prairie Lakes received the American College of Cardiology Foundation's NCDR ACTION Registry–GWTG Platinum Performance Achievement Award for 2013—one of only 197 hospitals nationwide to do so. The award recognizes Prairie Lakes' commitment and success in implementing a higher standard of care for heart attack patients, and signifies that Prairie Lakes has reached an aggressive goal of treating these patients to standard levels of care as outlined by the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association (ACC/AHA) clinical guidelines and recommendations.
- Prairie Lakes was recognized as a top-ranked hospital in the country for the value it provides to the community by Cleverley + Associates, a leading healthcare firm specializing in operational benchmarking and performance enhancement strategies. Prairie Lakes received the Community Five Star® designation based on its performance in the following areas: financial viability and plant reinvestment, hospital cost structure, hospital charge structure and hospital quality performance.
- Prairie Lakes completed its annual credit rating review by Standard & Poor's. The final report was published in March and affirmed an "A+" rating and a stable outlook.
- The South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations released a report called "Medicare Margins at a Glance." This report compared Prairie Lakes to other hospitals in the state and nation. The total Medicare margin reported for Prairie Lakes was 15%. For South Dakota hospitals as a whole, the overall margin was only 2%. For the nation as a whole, the overall Medicare margin was negative 6%.
- In August, Prairie Lakes was notified that no penalties for avoidable hospital admissions were applied to Medicare reimbursement for Federal FY 2013 and Federal FY 2014. Of the 3,379 hospitals included in the Federal government's Hospital Readmission Reduction Program started in FY 2013, 2,225 hospitals will receive readmission penalties.