Tyrone Regional Health Network (TRHN) board and administration announced Monday a plan to join a group of other hospitals in the Pennsylvania Rural Health Model, a move that they hope will help keep the hospital in the community.

“We are very excited to be in the forefront of this innovative model that we believe will assist us in meeting the healthcare needs of our community,” said Acting CEO Anna M. Anna. One of a second group of hospitals accepted into the model, Tyrone Hospital’s journey will begin January 1, 2020.

According to the Department of Health, the Pennsylvania Rural Health Model is an alternative payment model designed to address the financial challenges faced by rural hospitals by transitioning them from fee-for-service to global budget payments.

“Our ability to stabilize cash flow is one of our biggest challenges,” Anna noted. “The introduction of a global budget will bring regular payments that can be planned for and depended upon to help meet the financial obligations that come along with our facility.”

The model was designed in partnership with the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation. Pennsylvania is the first state to design and implement such a model that is focused entirely on rural hospitals. The department announced on March 5 that five hospitals and five payers would participate in the first year of the model.

Entering its second year, the payment model is still considered a pilot and TRHN’s board and administration await to see how it progresses. Financially, the hospital has been dealing with significant challenges, according to William Crowe, treasurer.

“The new model is expected to help the hospital dramatically improve cash flow,” he said. “These plans should have a significant positive impact on the short-term progress of the hospital. Partnering with a larger health system will have a positive impact on longer-term financial liability of the hospital.”

The TRHN board and senior leadership team are proactively working towards “potential partnerships,” as the hospital continues its mission to improve operational efficiencies, streamline operations, and meet board-established objectives, according to Anna. Anna said developments and a better idea of what the hospital’s future will look like will unfold after the new year, with progress and reports becoming available as a result of the new model in March.

TRHN is working with a consultant to do “all of the outreach,” and expects to have a letter of intent sometime in January. It is then anticipated that a partnership will be set in early spring after the board reviews proposals to decide “the best potential partnership that meets the needs of the facility, the community, and the staff.”

“Partnerships lead to resources, expertise, and enhanced quality. We have a strong desire to keep healthcare here, in this hospital, in this location,” Anna shared. “Our future may not be easy, but our ability and determination to weather this storm and learn from each challenge will help to serve this hospital and community well into the future.”

Adeena Harbst can be reached at aharbst@thedailyherald.net.

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