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HAMC, Johnson Clinic integration complete

By Staff | Aug 19, 2010

Eleven months after Rugby’s Heart of America Medical Center and Johnson Clinic signed a resolution to begin a plan to integrate, the consolidation of the two health care providers is now complete.

The final paperwork was signed on Aug. 13, beginning a new chapter in the delivery of health care services for the two entities and the Rugby region it serves.

“We’re excited this process is now completed and we look forward to the advantages this integration will provide for our facilities,” said Jeff Lingerfelt, HAMC CEO.

The biggest advantage is a far more stable financial platform. The consolidation enables the facilities to be eligible for a better Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement rate to recoup costs for services. The prior arrangement, put both the hospital and clinic at a disadvantage, Lingerfelt said. More costs will be covered under the integration, helping the bottom line.

Bonnie Mattern, clinic administrator, agrees this step will create a stronger health care system for the community and region for years to come.

HAMC has been actively recruiting physicians and mid-level care providers for the past few years and Lingerfelt said the consolidation will only help in the recruitment process.

He said the stand-alone, doctor-owned clinics situated in rural areas are not a model that works these days due to lower patient volume and a higher percentage of Medicare/Medicaid patients. Again, lower federal reimbursements rates make it difficult to recoup costs.

This integration will be a better arrangement and one that will help to attract more physicians. Also, in time, it may help the facility offer additional services.

Lingerfelt said this process could not have been completed without the efforts of Dr. Brian Selland, clinic president; and Mattern; as well as Wes Black and Jon Nelson, members of the hospital board.

One of the goals for hospital and clinic officials involved in laying out the integration was to make it as seamless as possible for patients. They won’t likely notice many differences in services outside of a name change for the clinic – now called Heart of America Johnson Clinic.

The clinic will remain autonomous, essentially a stand alone department within the organization.

Lingerfelt said the integration was also successful in that no employee layoffs were needed. Some workers were assigned new or different tasks, however, to avoid duplication of services.

Mattern said the consolidation won’t be without some growing pains for the staff, noting the installation of a new computer system and other in-office procedure changes.

“It’s going to be an adjustment, but ultimately it’s going to create a stronger unity between the facility and community,” Mattern said.

And the community certainly is aware of the key role a viable health care system plays in its future. This integration provides greater stability and opportunities, Lingerfelt adds.

Rugby’s Heart of America Medical Center has been incorporated as the Good Samaritan Hospital Association since 1911. The Johnson Clinic began operations in 1946 adjacent to the hospital and the two have been providing quality health care together for over half a century.

Mattern stepping down as clinic administrator

A long-time fixture in the administrative offices of the Johnson Clinic is stepping down.

Bonnie Mattern, who has been employed by the clinic for 18 years, including the past six as administrator, is leaving to pursue another career opportunity in the health care industry.

“It’s not an easy decision leaving,” Mattern said. “The physicians and staff have been so good to work with, but with the integration process coming to an end I saw this as the right time to make a change.”

Mattern will be working for Catholic Health Initiatives, a faith-based organization which oversees hospitals, assisted living care centers health in 18 states, including North Dakota. She will be based in Devils Lake and begin employment next month.

Heart of America Johnson Clinic has begun the search for a new clinic manager.

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