Cooperating for better care.

Robert Whitcomb

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Applying self-perceived ’employee capability’ concept to give physician leaders what they need to thrive

 

An athenahealth report says:

“In the late 1990s, a team of management scholars led by Harvard Business School professor Len Schlesinger came up with an important insight: Across a range of service industries, a single measurement of employees’ perceptions of their jobs can predict their performance. Called ’employee capability,’ the measurement gauges whether service workers feel they have the latitude, resources and support they need to effectively serve their customers. Since Schlesinger’s research was first published, boosting employees’ self-perceived capability has become a focus of leading service organizations and has been linked to greater customer loyalty, lower employee turnover, and higher shareholder returns.

“Healthcare is one of the nation’s largest service industries, but the concept of capability has not yet been applied to physicians in a healthcare setting. Evidence drawn from athenahealth data, however, suggest capability might be as influential in explaining physician performance as it is in other service industries.”

To read the report, please hit this link.


PwC cites consolidation, convenience care in predicting 6% rise in healthcare costs in 2019

 

FierceHealthcare reports:

“Healthcare costs will continue to rise next year, and a major culprit is the industry’s ‘merger-mania.'”

“Costs are projected to rise by about 6 percent in 2019—in line with recent years and a big improvement from a time not too long ago when prices were rising annually by double digits, according to the annual Behind the Numbers report from the PricewaterhouseCoopers Health Research Institute.

“But trends such as healthcare industry’s consolidation has stymied further progress in lowering costs, said Barbara Gniewek, health and welfare practice leader at PwC, in an interview with FierceHealthcare. At the same time, consumers are demanding more convenient access to care, and the focus on new sites of care—such as retail clinics and virtual visits—are also increasing costs as utilization rates increase.”

To read the entire article, please hit this link.

 


More states test ACO-based Medicaid payment system aimed at cutting costs

 

By PHIL GALEWITZ

For Kaiser Health News

MINNEAPOLIS — Sandy Dowland has been to the emergency room 10 times in the past year and was hospitalized during four of those visits. She has had a toe amputated and suffers from uncontrolled diabetes, high blood pressure, major depression, obesity and back pain.

But her health is not high on the 41-year-old woman’s priority list.

“I have a lot going on,” said the unemployed mother of five who lives in a homeless shelter. She said it’s a struggle just to get herself and children through each day.

Her health bills are covered by Medicaid, the state-federal health insurance program for the poor. That’s a relief for her, she said. But state officials say Medicaid is busting Minnesota’s budget, particularly with patients like Dowland and its system of paying hospitals for each admission, ER visit and outpatient test.

To ease that financial strain, Minnesota is at the forefront of a growing number of states testing a Medicaid payment system. It rewards hospitals and physician groups holding down costs by keeping enrollees healthy.

Under this arrangement, those health care providers are asked to do more than just treat medical issues such as diabetes and heart disease. They are called on to address the underlying social issues — such as homelessness, lack of transportation and poor nutrition — that can cause and exacerbate health problems.

It’s why North Memorial arranged for a community health worker and paramedic to meet Dowland on a recent weekday at a day care center for homeless families. They advised her on how to take her insulin, prodded her to use a patch to quit smoking and helped her apply for Social Security disability payments and food stamps.

“This is nice to have someone who I can talk to about everything in my life and give me access to the community resources I need,” said Dowland, who added that she puts off her own health needs in order to care for her children and look for housing and a job. “I appreciate the help because, at the clinic, the doctor doesn’t have time for this.”

North Memorial is among 21 health systems in Minnesota participating in this new model of care, called Accountable Care Organizations. ACOs get to share in money they save Medicaid by keeping spending under a budget and by reaching quality targets, such as averting hospital-acquired infections and controlling patients’ blood pressure and asthma.

The shift toward ACOs is occurring with Medicare and employer-sponsored insurance, too. But for Medicaid programs, it presents unique challenges. Medicaid enrollees, by definition, are low-income. Many have little experience navigating health systems and large numbers are homeless or dealing with mental health problems, conditions that can lead to difficulties in encouraging healthy behaviors.

“The goal [of ACOs] is really exciting to make health systems more responsive to what people need to be healthy,” said Ann Hwang, director of the center for consumer engagement and health innovation at Community Catalyst, a Boston-based consumer advocacy group. “But the jury is still out as to whether they are really moving the needle in addressing social services such as transportation, housing and food insecurity — the things we know affect people’s ability to be healthy.”

Nationwide, a dozen states are experimenting with Medicaid ACOs and 10 more are making plans for them.

About half of Minnesota’s 1 million Medicaid recipients are in ACOs, which officials said saved the state $213 million since 2013. Hospitals and doctors received $70 million of that.

In addition to North Memorial, other participating health systems include the Mayo Clinic and Hennepin Healthcare, the state’s largest safety-net provider and based in Minneapolis.

‘Going To Where The Patient Is’

For giant health systems that for years have competed by adding the latest technology or building sleek facilities, the ACOs are a huge shift. In effect, the ACOs push hospitals to address patients’ problems before they end up in the ER or operating rooms.

“We are learning to have to do a better job of going to where the patient is … as we now realize we are responsible for the patient when they are engaged with us and when they are not here,” said Robert Stroebel, who helps leads the ACO effort at Mayo Clinic.

So far, the model isn’t proving to be a panacea.

In six states using ACOs, a March federal study in found, Medicaid enrollees received more primary care services — such as doctor visits — but the program did not reduce hospital visits in most states or lower costs.

“Changing provider and beneficiary behavior may take more time than the few years this report covers,” concluded the study.

Minnesota’s experience demonstrates the challenges of changing to a new Medicaid payment system. In 2016, the latest year for which data are available, only six of the 16 ACOs were eligible to share in cost savings.

But Marie Zimmerman, Minnesota’s Medicaid director, noted the state’s program has seen a 7 percent cut in ER visits and a 14 percent reduction in hospital stays in areas where health providers participate in an ACO.

“Medicaid is 20 percent of Minnesota’s population, and we have to care about getting the best deal and the long-term fiscal ability of the program and not cutting eligibility and provider rates and benefits to show sustainability,” she said.

At Hennepin Healthcare in Minneapolis, Dr. Allison Wert examines Medicaid enrollee Rachel Rowell, who participates in the ACO.(PHIL GALEWITZ/KHN)

Struggle To Change Behaviors

The switch to ACOs accelerated efforts by hospitals and physician groups to attack so-called social determinants of health, such as the lack of stable housing and poor nutrition. But providers still struggle to change patients’ behaviors, particularly helping those with addiction and mental health problems, according to interviews with officials at several ACOs.

Doctors, nurses and social workers at Hennepin dealt with that head-on during a recent routine review of their patients. When they came to a 58-year old man suffering from alcoholism, anxiety and heart problems and living in a homeless shelter, they noted how they couldn’t get him into a primary care clinic and saw him only during frequent hospital admissions.

“Best we can hope for him is if we can facilitate a safe ending,” said Dr. Rachel Silva, a Hennepin internist, acknowledging that despite their best intentions, health providers likely would not be able to prevent his early death.

Even with teams of nurses, social workers and community health workers, Hennepin officials say they struggle to keep up with many Medicaid enrollees who have addiction problems, and many patients still go to the ER out of habit or convenience rather than the organization’s primary care clinics, which are as close as across the street.

Yet, there are success stories, too. The Mayo Clinic has started a community health worker program to help at-risk patients connect to social services such as housing and transportation.

Nancy Zein, 47, a Medicaid recipient who uses the Mayo Clinic, said having weekly meetings with community health worker Tara Nelson has been life-changing for her and her mother, who is also on Medicaid.

“She’s been a godsend,” said Zein, who noted how Nelson helped her get Social Security disability payments and her mom find affordable housing for disabled adults, as well as get both enrolled for food stamps.

“It’s made such an impact on our health,” Zein said. “My mom has depression issues, and with Tara helping us with housing, it helped her depression.”

With the opportunity to share in financial savings, North Memorial has hired additional community paramedics to visit high-risk patients. Mayo Clinic has added community health workers to help patients find housing and transportation and nurses to make home visits to patients after leaving the hospital. Hennepin set up special clinics for the most challenging Medicaid patients and sends doctors to care for patients in homeless centers, jails and the county’s mental health center — to reach people who may need help even before they are likely to end up in their ER and on Medicaid.

Nearly 20 percent of Hennepin’s adult Medicaid ACO members are homeless. In the past four years, social workers and other staff have helped more than 500 of their Medicaid patients — including in the ACO — get into public housing.

Cuts For Managed-Care Companies

The ACO model has raised concerns among managed-care companies that Minnesota and other states have used for decades to control Medicaid spending. Those companies get a monthly fee from Medicaid for each enrollee and often require those patients to seek care with doctors and hospitals that have contracts with the managed-care firm. The companies profit if they spend less on care than they receive in the state allotment.

“We are aligned with the goals … to explore innovation and provide better delivery of care,” said Scott Keefer, vice president of Minnesota Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, which has 300,000 Medicaid members. But, he added, much of the ACO savings cited by state officials are dollars taken from managed-care company profits.

His health plan lost more than $200 million from Medicaid operations during the past two years, partly because it had to pay part of its state funding to ACOs.

“We are not magically saving money. … We are moving the financial deck chairs around,” he said.


How to benefit from design thinking

In NEJM Catalyst, Amy Compton-Phillips, M.D., and Namita Seth Mohta, M.D., look at how healthcare organizations can best benefit from design thinking. Among their observations:

“NEJM Catalyst Insights Council members say the top organizational issues that would benefit most from design thinking are workflow, for staff and patients alike, and patient-facing activities such as scheduling appointments. In written responses, survey respondents single out scheduling as a poorly designed aspect of care delivery, citing issues with skills of centralized schedulers, the need for provider input on scheduling, and an abundance of inefficiency. More executives (41%) and clinicians (39%) than clinical leaders (29%) rank patient adherence/compliance with therapy among the issues that would benefit most from design thinking approaches.”

To read their whole piece, please hit this link.

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Study: Mandatory bundled-payment plans have little edge over voluntary ones

 

A study in Health Affairs suggests that mandatory bundled-payment programs have few advantages over voluntary one.  Fierce Healthcare, in its summary of the study, reported:

“Hospitals in voluntary and mandatory bundled-payment models vary by size and volume, but quality and ability to curb spending is largely the same, according to a new study.”

 

 


The latest on Trump efforts to kill the ACA

Please hit this link for an update from FierceHealthcare on the potential implications  for consumers and providers of the Trump administration’s latest attempts to kill the Affordable Care Act.

 


Agency cites drop in hospital-patient-safety risks

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reports that efforts to reduce such hospital- patient-safety risks  as adverse drug events or falls saved 8,000 lives and $2.9 billion  in 2014-2016. The numbers came in the federal agency’s   National Scorecard on Hospital-Acquired Conditions.

The study said that the AHRQ estimated that 350,000 hospital-acquired conditions were avoided in that period, cutting the rate of such adverse events by 8 percent.

To read the piece, please hit this link.


Developing physician leaders in the new healthcare world

 

Caryn Lerman, Ph.D.,  and J. Larry Jameson, M.D., both of the University of Pennsylvania, write in NEJM Catalyst about leadership development in the new world of medicine.

Among their remarks:

“We believe it is time for a critical assessment of the ways in which health systems develop, select, and support emerging physician leaders….”

“Physician leaders were traditionally selected on the basis of their national prominence and excellence as master clinicians, star researchers, and revered educators. These credentials remain important, but they aren’t sufficient in the current health care climate. Given the high rate of turnover among physician leaders such as department chairs and deans, we can no longer afford to neglect the skills that are essential for leaders to succeed. We believe there is a need for a new generation of leaders who can promote strategic and cultural alignment in the face of rapid change. … We suggest that health systems focus on three key strategies for promoting the effective development of physician leaders.”

“First, such systems could build a diverse pipeline of future physician leaders from within the organization. This approach would expand the pool of potential leaders, allow emerging leaders to take on progressively increasing responsibility, and ensure that leadership strategies are aligned with the organization’s culture and priorities. …”

“Second, health systems could implement a deliberate process for rigorously mining talent pools, whether internal or external. The most promising leaders are those who not only have experience and a compelling vision but also exemplify the core values of the institution and can engage and inspire others to rally around a shared vision. Physicians are understandably passionate about their own clinical specialties and research areas, but leaders need to understand, respect, and support the diverse interests of their teams and the institution in a balanced way. Physician leaders also need to partner effectively with nonphysician colleagues, including business leaders, administrators and nurses.”

“Third, health systems could implement structured processes for ‘onboarding’ and methods for gathering feedback. For example, listening tours that allow newly appointed leaders to solicit viewpoints from current leaders, faculty, and staff are invaluable for learning cultural norms and strategic priorities for the new role. This process also serves to establish new collaborative partnerships and build credibility for the new leader.”

To read the article, please hit this link.


Using nurses to integrate physical and behavioral healthcare

 

A FierceHealthcare article looks at how “nurses can bridge the gap between behavioral healthcare and physical healthcare for providers looking to better integrate the two.” To read it, please hit this link.

 

 


Is this entrepreneur a real savior for struggling rural hospital?

In the Surprise Valley area.

 

By BARBARA FEDER OSTROV

For Kaiser Health News

CEDARVILLE, Calif.

Beau Gertz faced a crowd of worried locals at this town’s senior center, hoping to sell them on his vision for their long-beloved — but now bankrupt — hospital.

In worn blue jeans and an untucked shirt, the bearded entrepreneur from Denver pledged at this town hall meeting in March to revive the Surprise Valley Community Hospital — a place many in the audience counted on to set their broken bones, stitch up cattle-tagging cuts and tend to aging loved ones.

Gertz said that if they vote June 5 to let him buy their tiny public hospital, he will retain such vital services. Better still, he said, he’d like to open a “wellness center” to attract well-heeled outsiders — one that would offer telehealth, addiction treatment, physical therapy, genetic testing, intravenous vitamin infusions, even massage. Cedarville’s failing hospital, now at least $4 million in debt, would not just bounce back but thrive, he said.

Gertz, 34, a former weightlifter who runs clinical-lab and nutraceutical companies, unveiled his plan to pay for it: He’d use the 26-bed hospital to bill insurers for lab tests regardless of where patients lived. Through telemedicine technology, doctors working for Surprise Valley could order tests for people who’d never set foot there.

To some of the 100 or so people at the meeting that night, Gertz’s plan offered hope. To others, it sounded suspiciously familiar: Just months before, another out-of-towner had proposed a similar deal — only to disappear.

Outsiders “come in and promise the moon,” said Jeanne Goldman, 72, a retired businesswoman. “The [hospital’s] board is just so desperate with all the debt, and they pray this angel’s going to come along and fix it. If this was a shoe store in Surprise Valley, I could care less, but it’s a hospital.”

The woes of Surprise Valley Community Hospital reflect an increasingly brutal environment for America’s rural hospitals, which are disappearing by the dozens amid declining populations, economic troubles, corporate consolidation and, sometimes, self-inflicted wounds.

Nationwide, 83 of 2,375 rural hospitals have closed since 2010, according to the North Carolina Rural Health Research Program. These often-remote hospitals — some with 10, 15, 25 beds — have been targeted by management companies or potential buyers who promise much but often deliver little while lining their own pockets, according to allegations in court cases, a Missouri state audit and media reports.

Enticed by such outsiders, some struggling rural hospitals around the country have embraced lab billing for faraway patients as a rescue plan. That’s because Medicare and commercial insurers tend to pay more for tests to sustain endangered rural hospitals compared with urban hospitals and especially outpatient labs. In general, this kind of remote billing is controversial and legally murky, and it recently has resulted in allegations of fraud in several states, according to government documents and media reports.

Rural hospital boards, however, tend not to have expertise in the health care business. The president of Surprise Valley Community’s board, for instance, is a rancher. Another board member owns a local motel; a third, a construction company. That lack of experience “leaves them vulnerable in many cases,” said Terry Hill of the nonprofit National Rural Health Resource Center, based in Duluth, Minn.

Seeking to distinguish himself from other would-be rescuers who ran into legal trouble, Gertz described his proposal to residents as perfectly legal — a legitimate use of telemedicine, essentially remote treatment via electronic communication such as video. “If you do it correctly,” he said in an interview with Kaiser Health News, “there is a nice profit margin. There [are] extra visits you can get from telemedicine but … it has to be billed correctly and it can’t be abused.”

He pledged in court documents to buy the bankrupt hospital for $4 million and cover its debts, saying he had lined up a $4 billion New York company as a financial backer. Kaiser Health News was unable to locate the company under the name Gertz cited, Next Genesis Development Group. He did not respond to emails seeking clarification on the issue.

Gertz, who acknowledged that he had never before run a hospital, was asked at the same gathering whether he had disclosed his “financials” to the hospital board. “As a private entity, I don’t have to show my financials and I have not provided my financials to the board,” he replied.

It was not clear whether board members had ever asked. Surprise Valley Health Care District board President John Erquiaga declined to comment.

A Sad Decline

Surrounded by the Warner and Modoc mountains and forests in California’s northeastern corner, Surprise Valley is home to four small communities. The largest is Cedarville, population 514, at last count.

The valley, covered in sagebrush and greasewood, is part of Modoc County, one of California’s poorest, with a median income of about $30,000. The closest hospital with an emergency room is roughly 25 miles away, over a mountain pass.

One of hundreds of rural hospitals built with help from the 1946 federal Hill-Burton Act, the Surprise Valley hospital opened in 1952 to serve a thriving ranching community. But it has struggled since, closing in 1981, reopening as a health clinic in 1985, then reconverting to a hospital in 1986.

A county grand jury report in 2014-15 found that “mismanagement of the [hospital district] has been evident for at least the past five years.”

By last summer, those in charge didn’t seem up to the task of running a modern hospital. By then, it was hardly a hospital at all. Crushed by debt, it primarily offered nursing home care, an emergency room, a volunteer ambulance service and just one acute care bed, with three others available if needed

When state inspectors arrived last June, they found chaos. The hospital’s chief nursing officer resigned during the inspection. Staffers reported unpaid checks to vendors hidden in drawers. Inspectors learned that the hospital had sent home temporary nurses because it couldn’t pay them, according to their report.

The hospital’s then-chief administrator, Richard Cornwell — who staffers said had instructed them to hide the checks, according to the report — had taken a leave of absence and was nowhere to be found. Cornwell, a health care accountant from Montana, was later fired and replaced with the hospital’s lab director, who in turn resigned, according to public records. Reached by Kaiser Health News, Cornwell declined to comment.

Federal regulators suspended Medicare and Medicaid payments to the hospital — a rarely invoked financial penalty — over concerns about patient care. Those payments have since been reinstated, but a follow-up state inspectionin November 2017 identified more patient care concerns.

Infighting ensued, with some residents fiercely committed to keeping the hospital open and others favoring closure, perhaps replacing it with a small clinic. Local journalist Jean Bilodeaux, 74, said board members often kept the public in the dark, failing to show up for their own meetings and sometimes making decisions outside public view.

When Bilodeaux raised questions about the hospital’s finances in the Modoc County Record, a weekly newspaper, she recalled, board members “started screaming at me,” she said. Now “I don’t even step foot in that hospital.”

Ben Zandstra, 65, a pastor in Cedarville, said that while Cornwell was in charge, he too got a chilly reception at the hospital, where he had long played guitar for patients on Christmas Eve. “I became persona non grata. It’s the most divisive thing I’ve seen in the years I’ve lived here.”

A White Knight, Vanished

Even residents who say they have experienced poor care at Surprise Valley Community believe its continued existence in some form is crucial — for its 50 or so jobs, for its ER, and because it puts the region on the map.

Eric Shpilman, 61, a retired probation officer, said his now-deceased wife received “unspeakable” treatment at Surprise Valley. But to shut it down? “It would take out the heart of Surprise Valley, the heart out of Cedarville.”

Last summer, the board turned to an outside management company for help.

Jorge Perez, CEO of Kansas City-based EmpowerHMS — which promises on its website to “rescue rural hospitals” — agreed to take over Surprise Valley’s debt and operate the hospital for three years, according to a management agreement with the board.

In the two months after EmpowerHMS took over management, Surprise Valley’s revenue more than doubled, according to financial documentsprovided by the hospital.

Then, according to hospital officials’ public statements, the company stopped making the promised payments, and they haven’t been able to contact EmpowerHMS or Perez since. In January, when Surprise Valley filed for bankruptcy, documents filed in court said EmpowerHMS had “abandoned” the hospital.

Around the time Perez took over, he and companies with which he was involved were dogged by allegations of improper laboratory billing at facilities in Mississippi, Florida, Oklahoma and Missouri, according to ongoing lawsuits by insurers and others, a state audit and media reports. Missouri’s attorney general in May opened an investigation into one of the hospitals Perez managed, and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) recently called for a federal investigation into lab billing practices at one of the hospitals.

Medicare rules and commercial insurance contracts, with some exceptions, require people to be treated on an inpatient or outpatient basis by the hospitals that are billing for their lab tests. But insurers have alleged in court documents that hospitals Perez was involved with billed for tests — to the tune of at least $175 million — on patients never seen at those facilities. Perez has maintained that what he is doing is legal and that it generates revenue that rural hospitals desperately need, according to Side Effects Public Media.

Experts say insurers are catching on to voluminous billing by hospitals in communities that typically have generated a tiny number of tests. At one Sonoma County district hospital not associated with Perez, an insurer recently demanded repayment for $13.5 million in suspect billings, forcing the hospital to suspend the lucrative program and put itself up for sale.

Lab tests for out-of-town patients have “been a growing scheme in the last year, slightly longer,” said Karen Weintraub, executive vice president of Healthcare Fraud Shield, which consults for insurers. “There’s an incentive to bill for things not necessary or even services not rendered. It also may not be proper based on contracts with insurers. The dollars are getting large.”

Some residents were aware of controversy surrounding Perez and his companies and said they tried to warn the hospital district board. “All they wanted to hear was, ‘We will pay the bills,’” Bilodeaux said.

Neither Perez nor EmpowerHMS returned requests for comment. However, Michael Murtha, president of the National Alliance of Rural Hospitals, said in an email that he was responding on behalf of Perez, who chairs the coalition’s board.

“The mission to rescue rural hospitals and set them on a path of sustainability is a difficult undertaking, and it would be a disservice to their communities to preclude struggling facilities from availing themselves of every legal and regulatory means to generate badly needed revenue,” Murtha wrote, in part.

“Such pioneering efforts are not always welcomed by those who have benefited from the status quo,” he said.

Regarding Perez’s role at Surprise Valley, Murtha wrote that Perez tried to help save the facility by “effectively” donating over $250,000 but then discovered it faced “more challenges than had been initially realized.” Murtha said Perez worked to attract others who might be better able to help the hospital.

A New Savior?

One of those “others” in Perez’s orbit was Gertz, the Denver entrepreneur, who arrived in Surprise Valley several months ago.

The Denver executive told residents and Kaiser Health News that he operated a lab that previously performed tests for hospitals owned or managed by Perez’s companies. At one hospital board meeting, Gertz also said he had handled marketing for Perez companies for 1½ years.

However, he said he had parted ways with Perez after learning of his controversial dealings in other states, and Gertz said Perez now owes him more than $14 million. (Gertz and his companies have not been named as defendants in lawsuits reviewed by Kaiser Health News involving Perez and his companies.)

“I come in with a certain guilt by association,” he told the Modoc County Board of Supervisors in April, according to a recording of the meeting. But Gertz sought to assuage any concerns, telling the supervisors he had a “passion” for rural life. He’d grown up on a farm, he said, where he “hung out with the chickens” and cleaned the stables every morning.

Gertz said his plan was different from Perez’s and legal because the hospital and one of his Denver labs, SeroDynamics, had become one business. With the hospital board’s approval earlier this year, he loaned the district $2.5 million for it to buy SeroDynamics — effectively an advance on the hospital’s purchase price of $4 million, according to bankruptcy court documents. SeroDynamics’ website now proclaims the lab a “wholly-owned subsidiary” of the Surprise Valley hospital, with “national reach.”

Robert Michel, a clinical laboratory management consultant who learned of the terms of the transaction from a reporter, offered a critical assessment. “The essence of this arrangement is to use the hospital’s existing managed-care contracts with generous payment terms for lab tests as a vehicle to bill for claims in other states,” said Michel, editor-in-chief of a trade magazine for the lab industry. This arrangement “should ring all sorts of bells” for the hospital board, he said.

For now, Gertz has said, dollars are flowing in. According to the journalist Jean Bilodeaux, Gertz phoned in to a Surprise Valley hospital board meeting last month to report that the lab billing so far had netted about $300,000. According to bankruptcy court documents, 80 percent of the profits will go to his companies, 20 percent to the hospital.

Those are terms some in Surprise Valley are willing to live with.

The next step, for Gertz, is taking ownership of Surprise Valley’s entire operation. For the 1,500 district residents, voting no on Tuesday almost certainly means closure, leaving taxpayers with potentially more debt, including any money they may owe Gertz.

That is good enough reason to go with the Denver entrepreneur, said acting hospital administrator Bill Bostic.

“He’s got something we haven’t got — which is money,” Bostic said.


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