Jun 09 Dowell: WMC partnership will keep expenses down and patients close to home
When I moved to Casper in January 1993, I had no idea I would still be here more than 25 years later. I think that Casper and Wyoming Medical Center are like that for a lot of people. The place has a way of drawing you in.
I am an independent, private practice physician. What this means is that while I’m associated with Wyoming Medical Center as a member of the medical staff and work there almost every day, I’m not on the payroll. I am also on the board of directors along with 10 other colleagues and community members who serve on a 100 percent volunteer basis. This is important. This board is known for the amount of time its members give serving on committees and subcommittees, and we do it voluntarily because we care about health care in our community.
A few weeks ago, the board announced that we were beginning to explore a partnership affiliation with another organization of scale. My friend and fellow board member Jessica Oden recently wrote about her perspective on the news, and I’d like to share mine as a physician and long-time community member.
First and foremost, the community should be assured that we have gone into this process with the full support of the board, County Commission and other community leaders. I have served on this board on and off for many years, and pursuing an affiliation with another organization has been something we’ve discussed for years. The timing was never quite right.
So, why now? Wyoming Medical Center is fortunate to be in a positive financial position that gives us strength as we pursue a possible affiliation. Wyoming has among the highest healthcare costs in the country, and we must do more to control cost. Pursuing a partnership will give us better purchasing power, and ultimately lower expenses.
The reality in health care is that reimbursement is significantly decreasing for both hospitals and private practices. The information technology required by the federal government is extremely expensive, and it will eventually become impossible to continue to be financially viable, maintain current services, and enhance clinical capability if we don’t figure out ways to be more efficient.
Recruitment is also a constant challenge. Almost any businessperson in Casper experiences the challenges of recruiting talent to Casper, and it’s no different for the medical community. A partnership will help us recruit new and vital medical talent for growth. This is a key piece of our strategic plan.
There are also many advantages to being our partner. Wyoming Medical Center’s central location allows us to network with the vast majority of Wyoming. The plan is to act as referral center for a greater portion of the state. Outmigration of health care to other states hurts the Wyoming economy and makes it very tough on families. We will continue to care for the very complex patients here. A partnership will provide a streamlined process to transfer patients to specialty centers if we do not have those capabilities. We want to increase our services at Wyoming Medical Center, which will allow for even more care here. We want to keep all appropriate care in Wyoming. This is of the utmost importance to me.
I started a family in Casper, raised my kids here, have grown a successful practice, and really enjoy the chance to make a difference. I am proud to work at Wyoming Medical Center. The level of medical expertise is outstanding. We take care of the sickest of the sick while allowing families to stay in Wyoming.
I’m very grateful to have had the chance to practice medicine here. I truly believe the future is bright. We will always keep the interests of our community and state in our minds as we explore the partnership options. Stay informed by visiting wmcforward.org.
Mark Dowell, M.D.
WMC Board member
Rocky Mountain Infectious Diseases