Last updated: July 15. 2014 7:13AM - 359 Views
By - cwarner@civitasmedia.com

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UNION — A state program that allocates a total of $15 million to help rural hospitals “transition to more sustainable models of service delivery” could help the Union Hospital District in its effort to partner with another health care system.

The Department of Health and Human Services’ Hospital Transformation Plans approved by the SC General Assembly directs the department to “develop and manage a program to help qualifying hospitals transition to more sustainable models of service delivery that meets the need of their community and reduce reliance on inpatient admissions, surgery or high-tech diagnostics. This includes encouraging new long-term partnerships between rural hospitals and community, tertiary and teaching facilities to ensure seamless, timely and high quality clinical care for patients in rural areas of the state.”

It further states that “the program shall provide funding that fully or partially offsets the one-time costs of these transitions.” The legislation allocates up to $15 million to be divided between the hospital/health care systems that qualify for the program.

One of those health care systems that could potentially qualify is the Union Hospital District which for some time has been working toward partnering with another health care system. The district has been looking to partner with another health care system in order to address its debt situation. The district has accumulated $18 million-$20 million over the past five years and in June filed Chapter 9 bankruptcy forestall litigation by its creditors while it continues to work on a plan to pay of its debt that will satisfy its creditors while making the district more attractive to potential partners.

CEO Paul Newhouse said that the legislation was developed with the hospital district in mind and could help the district in its efforts to partner with another health care system.

“Our goal is to partner with a larger facility and this could assist us in doing so,” Newhouse said.

Newhouse said that while the plans state that the assistance would take the form of a one-time allocation to cover the costs of the transition, the program is still being finalized as to determine the criteria under which a health care system would qualify for funding and exactly how it could be spent.

Even though the details are still being worked out, Newhouse said he expects the district will be able to qualify for the assistance and improve it chances of partnering with another health care system, successfully address its debt situation, and continue to provide the people of Union County with medical care.

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