Montrose Regional Health has helped grow the healthcare sector in 2023, and that isn’t expected to change in 2024, as we look ahead.
Montrose Regional Health CEO Jeff Mengenhausen talked about the growth in health care options in 2023 and MRH’s plans for 2024, which are highlighted by the company’s Ambulatory Care Center currently being constructed on the south side of Montrose.
“We’re looking at kind of the beginning or middle of February (for completion of the Ambulatory Care Center),” Mengenhausen said.
Some of the clinics are expected to move into the building at that time, including Alpine Women’s Clinic, the Spine and Pain clinics and the physical therapy lab.
Other parts of the care center are expected to be finished later this year. Imaging will move from the hospital to the ACC sometime around April, and the outpatient surgery center will likely be completed around the first of July, Mengenhausen said.
“As pieces get done, we’re opening it up,” he said.
Mengenhausen, as well as the Montrose Regional Health board, are aiming to make Montrose a regional hub for health and medicine.
“One goal that we’ve had since I’ve been here is to provide all the same services you can receive in Grand Junction,” Mengenhausen said. “We’re trying to make it where we can provide those services, great patient experience and quality of care.”
He wants the providers and equipment to be the same quality a patient might receive in Denver.
So far, he said, they are on the right track.
In 2023, Montrose Regional Health helped to add a rheumatologist, Dr. Danny Williams, as well as a spine and pain clinic to Montrose’s health care services. They also added a new cardiologist, a new family practice provider, new emergency department physicians, new orthopedic surgeons, a new urologist and more OBGYN service.
“New providers ranging all across the board,” Mengenhausen said.
Next on the list is to bring a gastrointestinal provider to Montrose. They hope to have that accomplished in the next six months.
Mengenhausen sees the Montrose area growing and has made the hospital’s strategy to grow as well.
“We’re growing, and to survive rural healthcare these days, and to beat inflation, we have to grow,” he said. “The nice thing is our community here in Montrose is growing.”
He said he’s seen the newer spine and pain program in Montrose grow faster here than he’s seen any program grow throughout his career.
“We’re truly moving into this regional center, where people from Delta, Ridgway, Hotchkiss, Gunnison, Cortez, and even Durango are coming here for health care, which is only going to grow our community,” he said. “Business grows business, so if we’re busy, patients come in for their appointment, they may stay at a hotel or they’re going to go out to eat at Camp Robber and shop at our local stores.”
One of the biggest battles the hospital faces in 2024 is that with inflation. Every sector is dealing with inflation, and the health care sector is no exception.
Mengenhausen said while reimbursements from Medicare, Medicaid and other government programs are increasing by 1.5 or 2%, they have given employee pay increases of anywhere from 6 to 12%, and other costs have been inflated anywhere from 10 to 12%.
To fight against inflation and keep staffed, the hospital has made big changes to its benefit plan. Caregivers at the hospital, who are treated at the hospital, now receive a 50% discount.
While all industries are struggling to hire, Montrose Regional Health is seeing growth in that regard as they’ve made changes.
He said they’re hiring somewhere close to 30 new caregivers a month.
Another challenge the health care sector, and MRH specifically, is facing, is insurance companies. Insurance companies are delaying care and pay, even denying patients, more often.
MRH is working, like many hospitals, with the Colorado Hospital Association to face insurance companies in the upcoming legislative session. They are fighting for legislation to hold insurance companies accountable and to allow for patients to receive access to healthcare when they need it.
This story is by Justin Tubbs, the Montrose Business Times editor. He can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 970-765-0915 or mobile at 254-246-2260.