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Boscobel hospital celebrates one year affiliation with Gundersen Health System
Staff members at Gundersen Boscobel Area Hospital and Clinics recently celebrated the one year anniversary of affiliation with Gundersen Health System, which this year received Healthgrades 2014 Excellence Awards for cardiac care, orthopedic surgery, gastrointestinal care and critical care, as well as--for the seventh year in a row--the Outstanding Patient Experience Award.

Gundersen Boscobel Area Hospital and Clinics recently celebrated its one year anniversary of affiliation with Gundersen Health System. This milestone offers the opportunity to reflect on the accomplishments and improve-ments seen within the first year.

“The affiliation with Gundersen Health System has positioned our organization to improve operationally and fiscally, while expanding the specialty services offered here in Boscobel,” explains David Hartberg, CEO of Gundersen Boscobel Area Hospital and Clinics. “We are pleased with the advances made in the first year of affiliation, and look forward to building upon those improvements in the coming years.”

In 2010, it was determined Boscobel Area Health Care’s management contract with St. Mary’s was not achieving the desired results. There was mutually agreement that Boscobel Area Health Care should seek another partner. Conversations began with Gundersen Health System, resulting in a realization of similar mission and values. A letter of intent was signed in early 2012 between Boscobel Area Health Care and Gundersen Health System, followed by a management contract in the summer of 2012. The affiliation was finalized in October 2013, resulting in a name change to Gundersen Boscobel Area Hospital and Clinics. The affiliation agreement does not establish Gundersen Health System as the owner, nor operator of day to day operations. Day to day operations are run by the Administrative Team at Gundersen Boscobel, with policy and strategy influenced by the Board of Directors, which now includes Gundersen Health System represent-atives.

                                                                    First year of affiliation

“The affiliation with Gundersen Health System offers Gundersen Boscobel a strong partner to help navigate through the regulations and reimbursement models that are ever changing for all health care providers” states Hartberg. “Our knowledge of rural health care, now connected with content experts at Gundersen, has meant improvements in our operations and care offered in Boscobel.”

Central to the goal of improved care offered in Boscobel is better access to needed specialty services. Since the affiliation, Gundersen Boscobel has developed outreach programs featuring 11 Gundersen providers who travel to see patients and per-form needed operations in Boscobel. These outreach pro-grams include: Orthopaedic Surgery, Podiatry, Cardiology, General Surgery, Urology, Diabetic Education, and more.

In January of 2014, Gundersen Boscobel Area Hospital and Clinics acquired the Boscobel Clinic, centralizing access in Boscobel under one organization. The move offers increased connectivity between the Hospital and Clin-ic, which improves patient care and flow of information.

“The ability to bring together the skill sets and abilities of Gundersen Health System, Gundersen Boscobel Area Hospital and Clinics, and the Boscobel Clinic means we can work together to provide the patients of this area the best in healthcare services and quality. All of our best work can be combined to deliver superior access and disease management, work towards a unified medical record and create per-sonalized care for the entire family,” says Hartberg.

                                                                         Fiscal improvements

Gundersen Boscobel finds itself in very different fiscal health than it was in just a few years ago. In 2012, Boscobel Area Healthcare had a -2 percent operating margin, dipped below 10 days of operating cash on hand, debt service coverage was minimally maintained, and was looking to tap into its line of credit. Through improved fiscal operations, the ability to partner with Gundersen on operational improvements and its buying power, the current financial outlook for Gunder-sen Boscobel contrasts the fiscal challenges once plaguing the organization.

Year-to-date in 2014, Gundersen Boscobel is trending with a +4 percent operating margin, averaging over 50 days operating cash on hand, and is servicing debt three times the limits. These advances have been made all while making investments in capital equipment that has been put off in recent years, gradual improvements to facilities, and most importantly, investing into its employees.

                                                                       Five-year strategic plan

For the first time in over eight years, a five-year strategic plan has been developed and will be executed before the end of 2014.

“The process of developing the strategic plan has spurred great discussions about our mission as an organization and allowed us to more clearly define the path ahead,” explains Hartberg. “This past year has been about laying the groundwork operationally and fiscally for continued advancements in the coming years.”

Part of that groundwork is the development of EPIC Electronic Health Records System. EPIC is a state of the art record system that helps improve and align clinical care across the ER, Clinics and Hospital, as well as connect with Gundersen and other care providers, where higher levels of care are delivered. Gundersen Boscobel is slated to go live with EPIC in February of 2015, offering patient portal access for patients to play a larger role in their care.

                                                                               Cancer services

Building upon the specialty services added in the past year, a Hematology-Oncology and Chemotherapy Services program is in development and slated to begin in February 2015. The Boscobel Area Hospital and Clinics Foundation has committed to secure funding to support the start-up of this program.

“The Foundation is honored to play a role in helping bring cancer services to Boscobel,” says Eric Swan, Director of Boscobel Area Hospital and Clinics Foundation. “The ability to receive care in Boscobel, greatly improves quality of life and offsets the added strain of lengthy travel to receive treatments.” Along with this program, Gundersen Boscobel hopes to continue the development of more specialty outreach programs that are offered in Boscobel.