Letter: Putting patients first

May 16, 2014 

Keeping patients and hospitals healthy

Johnston Health joins hospitals across our state in recognizing Hospital Week. It’s a time to recognize and thank our 1,400 dedicated employees who provide quality care to patients and the 200 or so volunteers and hospital board members who donate their time and talents to help our hospital thrive.

When the unexpected occurs, Johnston Health is there for you and your family, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Last year, our Smithfield and Clayton campuses saw more than 77,000 patients in our emergency departments, delivered 1,300 babies and performed more than 6,000 surgeries. When you need information on how to improve your health or assistance in recovering at home, Johnston Health is there to help.

Hospitals across our state are committed to a singular mission – to provide quality care to everyone, regardless of ability to pay. In a time of great change and scrutiny of health-care delivery and health-care costs, we are proud of our organization for rising to the challenge of managing costs without sacrificing the quality of care that residents have come to expect from us.

Johnston Health is committed to being accountable for quality and cost-effectiveness. We have in place a program that helps us reduce expenses while improving performance. Our rates of hospital-acquired infections are low. And because of our work to become accredited Chest Pain Centers, we are giving patients who arrive in our emergency departments with heart attacks the chance for the best possible outcome and recovery.

Most important, we have aligned ourselves with UNC Health Care to ensure that our health-care system can grow and, in the future, offer more of the services that our residents need.

We’ve made these great strides all while adjusting to the Affordable Care Act and other federal changes in health-care funding. Contrary to what many people may think, hospitals charge every patient the same amount for the services we provide, but the payment model differs by patient. Many times, hospitals are not fully reimbursed for the care they provide.

In most North Carolina hospitals, nearly 75 percent of patient care is paid by government programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, or written off as charity care. About one in four hospital patients today has private insurance.

Last year, our cost to treat patients who qualified for charity care was $10.3 million. Also important, uncompensated care, which is the gap between cost and government insurance payments, was more than $7 million.

As the third largest employer in Johnston County, our health-care system is an important part of the local economy. Just like other businesses in our community, Johnston Health has faced financial challenges. We have responded by carefully scrutinizing and controlling our labor and capital expenses.

Indeed, we have more needs than money to pay for them. That is why we are committed to helping develop the solution for Medicaid in North Carolina that puts the needs of patients first and leaves decision-making for patient care in the hands of medical providers.

Despite the challenges facing our hospital and the changes that are sure to lie ahead, our employees remain committed to our mission of caring for our patients and helping our community and our state push forward toward a healthier tomorrow.

Chuck Elliott

Chairman and CEO of Johnston Health

Bobby Parker

Chairman, Johnston Health Services Corp. Board of Directors

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