What Does Healthcare Reform Mean for Valley Medical Center?

Board President’s Advisory Council Discusses Ways to Ensure Quality, Convenience and Expertise Remain Close to Home

RENTON, WA – Quality healthcare, convenient local access, Medical expertise and dependable health outcomes no matter what ‘healthcare reform’ may bring or require, surfaced as the top priorities of Valley Medical Center’s President’s Advisory Council at the close of its 5-series session on October 26.

“Accountable care organizations,” “local medical expertise” and “medical home” were three consistent topics during the five weeks of lively discussion on the complexities of healthcare reform and the effect this reform could have on King County Public Hospital District No. 1 and its patients.

Approximately 30 District residents from a variety of business, civic, volunteer, and community sectors attended the meetings. Topics discussed ranged from ‘the role of public hospitals,’ and ‘quality measures and their importance,’ to ‘hospital finances and payor challenges,’ and ‘accountable care organizations,’ to name a few.

“Our Board is very fortunate to have these educated, accomplished and passionate stakeholders help us understand the healthcare priorities and concerns of the citizens of our District,” said Sue Bowman, President of Valley Medical Center’s Board of Commissioners. “The message that has echoed through this series of meetings is clear: high-quality healthcare, close to home, is the priority.”

Feedback from breakout groups included surprise at the level of complexity and requirements to run a large hospital and clinic network, and the level of sophistication of VMC’s hospital’s staff and technology, coupled with apprehension for the overwhelming financial challenges VMC faces as a public hospital. The current phenomenon of various healthcare organizations partnering to better posture for Reform was a topic of keen interest.

Of great concern to the group was the probability of inadequate access to care for the uninsured and underinsured as primary care resources can’t keep up with the growing demand, and, the challenges for the hospital system if public hospitals are saddled with more Medicaid patients while private clinicians limit Medicaid, and the negative impact this could have on VMC’s ability to compete and maintain a state of the art facility. Council members stated that clearly, the hospital must embrace the accountable care organization model to survive, but were concerned about how growth and stability of quality local services could be ensured in the future.

“Understanding healthcare reform is challenging, even for those of us in healthcare,” said President Bowman. “Our hope is that after our spirited and informative discussions these influential community leaders will share a new level of understanding with their neighborhoods and organizations.”