Veterans Choice

Veterans may have to wait several weeks before they can take advantage of veterans’ health services through Lincoln Health System.

During Lincoln Health System’s Board of Trustees’ December meeting, Candie Starr, CEO, noted that while LHS has signed an agreement with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to become a Veterans Choice Program participant in September, the VA has been backed up in regard to the necessary paperwork needed for the program to proceed. It could be 60 days before the program begins, she said.

Once the agreement is in place, veterans will have local options for their healthcare and timely community care. Veterans will be entitled to all health services through LHS.

The board tabled a motion that was tentatively approved last month that would provide for LED upgrades for all of the interior and exterior lighting at Lincoln Medical Center.  The agreement, a lighting lease, may have to go before the Lincoln County Budget Committee and County Commission for approval.

According to discussion, upgrading to LED lighting would result in a substantial savings. Two studies have demonstrated that the health system’s energy consumption was significantly higher than other hospitals of similar size. A proposal they received projected an energy savings of nearly $100,000 annually at an investment cost of less than $6,000 per month, resulting in increased energy efficiency and reduced utility costs. Officials stated that the upgrade would result in a savings of approximately $1 million over the next 10 years.

In just six to eight weeks, the Joint Commission will be surveying the health system. The Joint Commission Survey is designed to help improve health organizations’ good practice guidelines, provide education, evaluate actual care processes and technology, and help improve the organization’s performance and efforts to improve patient quality and safety.

Karrie Rogers, director of nursing, noted that the health facilities has an opportunity for improvement in regard to diagnosing sepsis faster and treating it more quickly. Sepsis is a life-threatening condition caused by the body’s response to infection. While an action plan to address concerns had been submitted and staff had been working on protocols, officials questioned whether policy was being followed. A gap analysis is being conducted to examine concerns more closely.

Officials anticipate that the pharmacy compounding area will be completed prior to the Joint Commission’s survey. While discussing the pharmacy compounding area, they mentioned that the renovation begins in January. It will take six to eight weeks to complete construction.

In other discussion, LHS system officials will be exploring a fully insured position in 2019. The system is currently self-insured but has had many high dollar claims in 2018, according to discussion. Self-insuring exposes companies to a much larger risk when there are more claims than expected.

By comparison, in a fully insured policy the company pays a premium to the insurance carrier, and insurance pays the claims based on coverage. Covered persons pay their deductible and the premium rates are fixed for one year based on the number of employees that are enrolled each month.

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