Hospital chief of staff urges 'yes' vote on tax proposal

Pawhuska Journal-Capital

Pawhuska voters on Jan. 12 will decide a proposed 1-cent sales tax increase to support the Pawhuska Hospital. Dr. Cameron Rumsey, chief of staff at hospital and a member of the hospital's Board of Trustees is urging passage of the referendum.

"I grew up in this community and now plan to spend the rest of my life providing quality health care to our citizens," Rumsey said. "Our hospital provides a valuable resource that is extremely difficult to find in any rural community. I hope to contribute to its longevity and stability moving into the future. We have an excellent team of providers, nurses, and staff that have remained constant over recent years."

He said the stability of the staff, coupled with a Cohesive Healthcare partnership, are the reasons for the hospital's continued success.

"Various management organizations and business models exist in the critical access hospital market. Some of these organizations, sometimes inadvertently, can negatively affect a critical access hospital," Rumsey said. "We are fortunate to have Cohesive Healthcare guide us through this budding endeavor. We have grown our hospital to new heights both in service and in quality of care."

Rumsey said he has received multiple questions surrounding the upcoming sales tax vote, some of which addressed Medicaid expansion and the hospital's Medicare reimbursement model.

"Medicaid expansion will be helpful to Oklahoma; however, it will not result in meaningful cash infusion to rural hospitals. The OHA (Oklahoma Hospital Association) anticipates a $35,000 per year impact over a five-year period for our hospital," Rumsey said.

"There has also been mention of only a 1% shortfall in our reimbursement model. To say this is an oversimplification and lack of understanding of the current model for critical access hospitals," he continued. "This only pertains to the cost of Medicare treatment, and not for the cost of operating the hospital and covering the uninsured. Most rural hospitals including our own face a systemic challenge under the current reimbursement model. There is no such thing as a simple 1% shortfall, nor are there efficiency strategies that could magically correct the challenges."

Rumsey said that the hospital was struggling significantly a few years ago both financially and with quality of care. Now, it has more than 120 employees, "a thriving emergency room, an average daily census over 15, and a growing clinic."

"We have a staff that provides a complexity and quality of care rarely found in any rural hospital," he said. "This hospital has saved many lives and has played a major role in contributing to the economic health of this community. It is unfortunate that quality of care combined with good business practices are not enough to save rural hospitals, but it is the truth. With assistance from the city, not only can an incredible and economically vital community resource be saved, the hospital itself can go from survival mode and begin to thrive."