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NCCH Columns

Affordability is a goal at NCCH

Ainslee Wittig / NCCH Community Relations

While Northern Cochise Community Hospital strives to meet your needs by providing essential healthcare services, we realize that simply providing these services is not enough.
NCCH wants to make these essential services not only available, but also accessible (with longer hours and a variety of clinics), and especially, affordable - at a cost that is reasonable.
Here are a few things NCCH is doing to combat rising healthcare costs for our customers:
• "In December 2016, NCCH made overall price reductions in eight service lines, such as radiology and lab," Kim Aguirre, patient financial services director, said.
"We now see a 30-percent reduction in charges - meaning, we charge, on average, 30-percent less for both insurance and what is on your bill," she said. "We felt this was necessary due to the rising costs of healthcare. This reduction will help those with high deductible plans and uninsured or underinsured patients."
• Because NCCH is designated a Critical Access Hospital, traditional Medicare patients have no out-of-pocket expenses for lab work.
"If a traditional Medicare patient gets a lab done at NCCH, they will receive no statement (bill). I want to shed some light on that," Aguirre said. "You will receive a bill from other lab locations that are not designated Critical Access Hospitals."
Critical Access Hospitals are hospitals with limited beds, swing bed care and other qualifications, that allow reimbursement based on the cost to perform services, she said.
• Self-pay patients receive a 40-percent discount on their bill either on the same day of service or anytime before the first statement is received by the patient - usually one to two weeks.
"We will honor that 40-percent discount up to that point, and after that, and prior to the second statement, we can give the self-pay patient a 30-percent discount," Aguirre said.
• Financial assistance programs are also available to anyone having difficulty paying. Information on prices of most commonly used services and on financial assistance programs are found at www.ncch.com by going to Patient Info in the top bar, and then clicking HERE next to Financial Assistance Program or NCCH Pricing Transparency List.
"We are always available to discuss options and make arrangements, whether it is additional discounts or payment plans, even if you have already received a statement. We are here to assist and open to several options. As a billing department we take the time to listen and understand that life is full of unexpected circumstances," she said.
Call 520-766-6524 or 520-766-6541 for help or more information, or visit the Billing Department by entering the hospital at the East Wing on Arizona Avenue.




NCCH Columns

Rehab for the PT department

Ainslee Wittig / NCCH Community Relations

The physical therapy department at Northern Cochise Community Hospital will soon receive some rehab of its own. While NCCH is already a provider of comprehensive rehabilitation services for both inpatient and outpatient customers, the size of the department will double by the end of the year.
Welton Wittwer, the hospital's physical therapist, said he is excited about the additional space and the changes that will take place within the larger area.
Bill Hopkins, NCCH facilities manager, said the architect, engineers and electricians have already done their specifications for the area, which will then be submitted to the state.
"It should take 60 to 120 days from there. In the meantime, we will do some space planning with the architect and the Rehabilitation Department staff. We may start in October or November. The department is expanding into the old medical records area (adjacent to Rehab), so it should double the space," Hopkins said.
Double the space has led to growth in the department, with an additional PTA (physical therapy assistant) - Catherine Whipp, who started Aug. 14, so "no one has to wait to come in and get an evaluation."
Wittwer has been at NCCH for three months. PTA John Ambrose has been at the hospital for more than seven years, and Angela Lopez works double-duty as receptionist and therapy aid. Another aim for the department's update is to streamline the registration process, Wittwer noted.
Wittwer said he wants to fill the new space with more equipment, some the hospital already has, and some on a wish list. He also plans to use a room in the previous medical records area as a dry needling room.
"I am certified in dry needling, which can relieve pain from numerous musculoskeletal conditions - for example, in the neck, shoulder, foot, back - just about anywhere. The treatment helps decrease pain and improve mobility," he said.
According to the American Physical Therapy Associations, the technique uses a "dry" needle, one without medication or injection, inserted through the skin into areas of the muscle with the goal of releasing or inactivating trigger points to relieve pain or improve range of motion.
Whether recovering from a surgery or an injury, inpatient or outpatient, the department has the equipment and providers you need to get strong and healthy, with quality care, close to home.




NCCH Columns

Kick up your heels, raise money for NCCH Sept. 9

Ainslee Wittig / NCCH Community Relations

It's not easy for a hospital to afford new medical equipment. And costs of other upgrades, usually secondary to medical equipment, can also be challenging for a small, rural non-profit hospital.
Last year, the Northern Cochise Community Hospital Foundation raised more than $65,000 at its Boots 'n' Bling Western Fling fundraiser. The funds were dedicated this year to a new automated medicine dispenser, which was negotiated down from $50,651 to $33,300, with the balance of $17,351 going toward the upcoming upgrade of the Emergency Room. In 2016, the Foundation provided $75,000 for a new Computerized Tomography (CT) scanner - the majority of which came from the event in 2015.
This year, the Foundation hopes to raise $65,000 at the event for a new ultrasound machine for the Imaging Department. The Foundation also plans to donate $14,000 to purchase a new defibrillator for the Emergency Department.
Can you help make that happen, and have fun, to boot? (Pun intended!)
The fifth annual Boots 'n' Bling Western Fling will be held at the Willcox Elks Lodge on Saturday, Sept. 9, starting at 6 p.m. Tickets for the dinner and dance are $50 per person.
Dance only tickets, with Neal McCowan and the Good Time Band, of Las Cruces, N.M., are available after 8:30 p.m., at the door, for $10 per person.
A raffle will be held for a pair of sparkling orange sapphire (1.19 carats) and diamond (0.18 carats total) halo earrings, all set in 14K white gold diamond hoops. Tickets may be purchased at the Community Relations office (Ainslee Wittig) in the admin building on Bowie Street, next to the hospital, or at the event. Tickets are $5 for one or $10 for three.
Silent and live auctions will be held and a no-host bar will begin a 6 p.m.
A taste of the items at the auctions -- a stay at a condominium at Rocky Point, Mexico, and a Yeti ice chest at the live auction, and six awesome wine baskets and assorted packages of Klein Tools at the silent auction!
Have fun and donate to our community's future.
Support NCCH through its Foundation and kick up your heels on Sept. 9!




NCCH Columns

Updates in the Emergency Department

Ainslee Wittig / NCCH Community Relations

At Northern Cochise Community Hospital, we are working to be the best we can be for our customers.
Yes, patients -- and their families -- are our customers. Whether in the hospital or at one of our clinics, we work for the best possible outcome for each person who comes through the doors.
One of the current projects to better our hospital and your hospital experience, is the updating of our Emergency Department. The project is expected to be complete by the end of September; and the ER will stay open throughout the process.
Bill Hopkins, NCCH facility manager, explained the process.
"The first thing will be replacing the flooring. The new Teknoflor flooring is antimicrobial and lower maintenance than the current flooring, which is 10 years old, maybe more," he said.
Next, the walls will be painted with antimicrobial paint. Ceiling tiles will be replaced and crash rails will be added to the walls to prevent damage from moving beds and equipment.
"We will upgrade the lighting to LED lighting, which will be like night and day for the physicians, as compared to the lighting in the ER now," Hopkins said. "It will also lower our costs."
"For the patients, we will install new privacy curtains, and we are looking to put TVs in some of the rooms, as family members are often present," he said.
A new security system with cameras and new door access controls will be added to the Emergency Department, as well.
Emergency department director, Dr. Joshua Dopko, said he looks forward to the completion of the aesthetic and user-friendly updates.
"I think the more modern facilities will add quite a bit to the look of the ER," Dopko said.
Hopkins said the ER is the first phase of updating the facilities, with phase 2 to include the flooring in the front lobby, the radiology hallway and the nurses' station.
Entryways will remain the same for the ER and it will continue 24-hour service. We look forward to having a healthier, brighter and more accommodating environment, where residents can receive excellent care close to home.




Your hospital works for you

Ainslee Wittig / NCCH Community Relations

While some of you may know me already, I am introducing myself in a new capacity as the community relations coordinator at Northern Cochise Community Hospital, in Willcox. I come here from the newspaper industry, where I have spent 20 years at the Arizona Range News, as a reporter and then as managing editor.

In that capacity, I have strived to write informative, accurate and unbiased articles on a variety of subjects. The majority of people who work as newspaper journalists believe strongly in what they do. They know the importance of getting information out to the public so they can evaluate that information and make informed decisions.

I was excited about moving to an industry where I can retain those same values.

Healthcare employees believe in what they do. They care about people. They want to educate and motivate residents to be healthy. Whether it is at the emergency room, the health fair or a visit to a clinic, the goals at NCCH are the same: to remedy health issues and educate on how to live a healthy lifestyle, while focusing on core values of Compassion, Integrity, Community and Trust.

As your local healthcare organization, Northern Cochise Community Hospital has a direct impact on the people of Willcox and the residents living in its 2,000 square-mile service area (the size of Delaware!) in Northern Cochise and Southern Graham counties. I am pleased to join the caring employees at NCCH in our quest for healthy, happy residents.

To further that effort, I will be writing a weekly column in the Arizona Range News where I can continue to give residents information to help them receive quality care and stay healthy, right here close to home.

NCCH Columns

Accessibility is key in care at NCCH

Ainslee Wittig / NCCH Community Relations

You visit the emergency room with high blood pressure and are admitted to the hospital. Soon you feel much better and you are discharged. Two days later, on Saturday, you have concerns about possible side effects from medication. Your primary care physician can't see you until Monday. Who can afford to go to the emergency room again?

At Northern Cochise Community Hospital, you have another option. And it's free.

You can call your hospitalist -- the doctor who takes care of you while in the hospital -- on his or her local cell phone at any time, day or night, before your primary care appointment, to get advice, alleviate your concern or take other action if needed.

NCCH chose wisely when it hired the Rural Physicians Group (RPG) in January.

Through RPG, a core group of four physicians provides hospital coverage at NCCH. Three of them rotate between NCCH and other rural hospitals, with stays of seven to 10 days each. The fourth, Dr. Hisham Hamam, who has been at NCCH for eight years, remains in Willcox.

"Personally, I didn't see a change when we moved to Rural Physicians Group because I do not rotate to other hospitals. But the requirement (by RPG) to live on-site is advantageous. I like it here and it feels like I work from home. We are very quick to serve patients, even late at night," Hamam said.

With the RPG system, a hospitalist must be available on-site at NCCH 24 hours a day, seven days a week; and living inside the facility, the hospitalist offers quick response time.

Hamam said that Rural Physicians Group hospitalists "enjoy their work in Willcox and want to continue coming to NCCH."

But if a hospitalist had an emergency elsewhere, Rural Physicians Group, by design, also ensures hospitalist coverage at all times.

While local cell phones and in-house availability are a big part of the service for RPG, there is more.

Teamwork is valued at RPG, as hospitalists empower NCCH staff through real-time education, enhancing their skills in caring for more acute patients.

And most importantly, hospitalists work to achieve full patient satisfaction through coordination and continuity of care, from the time the patient is admitted to NCCH to their follow-up with a primary care physician. They also maintain effective communication with patients, their families and their primary care physicians.

The best of care and communication, all close to home at NCCH.




Your hospital works for you

Ainslee Wittig / NCCH Community Relations

While some of you may know me already, I am introducing myself in a new capacity as the community relations coordinator at Northern Cochise Community Hospital, in Willcox. I come here from the newspaper industry, where I have spent 20 years at the Arizona Range News, as a reporter and then as managing editor.

In that capacity, I have strived to write informative, accurate and unbiased articles on a variety of subjects. The majority of people who work as newspaper journalists believe strongly in what they do. They know the importance of getting information out to the public so they can evaluate that information and make informed decisions.

I was excited about moving to an industry where I can retain those same values.

Healthcare employees believe in what they do. They care about people. They want to educate and motivate residents to be healthy. Whether it is at the emergency room, the health fair or a visit to a clinic, the goals at NCCH are the same: to remedy health issues and educate on how to live a healthy lifestyle, while focusing on core values of Compassion, Integrity, Community and Trust.

As your local healthcare organization, Northern Cochise Community Hospital has a direct impact on the people of Willcox and the residents living in its 2,000 square-mile service area (the size of Delaware!) in Northern Cochise and Southern Graham counties. I am pleased to join the caring employees at NCCH in our quest for healthy, happy residents.

To further that effort, I will be writing a weekly column in the Arizona Range News where I can continue to give residents information to help them receive quality care and stay healthy, right here close to home.