U.S. Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Kan., said he was impressed by what he saw in a tour of Mt. Carmel Regional Medical Center Thursday morning.

U.S. Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Kan., said he was impressed by what he saw in a tour of Mt. Carmel Regional Medical Center Thursday morning.
“For a rural hospital, I didn’t expect it to have this kind of size in terms of beds or the number of services,” said Tiahrt, a member of the House Appropriations Committee. “I was very impressed by the ideas that they have come up with and their execution of those ideas.”
Pittsburg is out of Tiahrt’s district, which covers most of southern Kansas, including Wichita, Coffeyville and Kingman, but as the senior Republican on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, he said Mt. Carmel provided a unique example for his research into health care reform.
For one thing, many other rural hospitals have access to 340B programs that allow the hospital access to medications at a lesser cost. But eligibility into that program is decided by Medicaid days, and Mt. Carmel is not eligible.
“That was one of the things that we talked about,” Tiahrt said. “Maybe if it was based on the number of beds, rather than Medicaid days, it would help Mt. Carmel out.”
That help wouldn’t just be a drop-in-the-bucket — Jonathan Davis estimated that membership in that program could save Mt. Carmel about $2 million per year.
“That would allow us to do a lot of things like recruit new physicians,” said Davis, Mt. Carmel president and chief executive officer. “But they wouldn’t just be new things either. You would see some replacement of programs and equipment.
“That’s one of the great things about non-profit health care,” Davis said. “All of the money that we can save goes directly back in to making our care better.”
Tiahrt said Davis also suggested the concept of ‘modeling,’ essentially giving hospitals and health care centers a chance to see how any potential reform would affect them before deciding to move forward.
“Health care reform is a complicated issue and unfortunately there are no simple solutions,” Davis said. “It’s my hope that lawmakers will allow organizations and hospitals to ‘model’ their plans in advance. Let us see how our patients and our organizations will be impacted so that we can help develop a plan that works for everyone.”
But Tiahrt said he was impressed with more than just ideas put forth by Mt. Carmel administrators. He singled out the trip to the Erickson Intensive Care Unit as one of Mt. Carmel’s impressive technological areas.
“I like the way they set that up, moving the staff closer (through the use of cameras),” Tiahrt said. “It was pretty impressive.”
Davis said that Tiahrt’s trip went well.
“He asked to see our hospital and the way that we were connected to the community, and we tried to show him that,” Davis said. “In health care, when you can bring people in and be transparent, I think it’s a good thing.”
At the same time, Davis said it was also good to play up the hospital’s strengths.
“Any time you can get on a hilltop and wave your flag, you have to do that,” Davis said.