CPGH Inc. makes plans for future

Increase in population means increase in resident needs at hospital

Posted: Tuesday, May 01, 2001

The nonprofit corporation that runs the publicly owned hospital in Soldotna is wrapping up an effort to plan how the hospital will address community health needs for the next five or 10 years.

CPGH Inc. runs Central Peninsula General Hospital under a lease and operating agreement with the Kenai Peninsula Borough. The corporation's board has been working for 18 months on a new strategic plan for the hospital, said its president, Diana Zirul.

The strategic plan, which the board could adopt during its meeting Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at the hospital, lays out the board's vision for the hospital over the next five to 10 years, she said. The borough assembly will hear about the plan at its meeting Tuesday, and the Central Kenai Peninsula Hospital Service Area board will hear about it during its meeting Wednesday.

Once the CPGH Inc. board adopts the strategic plan, it will work with its consultant, Quorum Health Resources, to develop a business plan outlining what services to provide, and to develop a master facilities plan outlining what buildings and facilities will be needed to deliver those services. The business and master facilities plans could take several months to write, Zirul said.

Speaking Monday before the Kenai Rotary Club, Zirul said the hospital's first challenge is to catch up with the increased demand for health care services brought by population growth.

The population of the Central Kenai Peninsula Hospital Service Area, which collects property taxes to help support the hospital, grew from 27,377 people in 1990 to about 34,000 in last year's federal census, she said. That brought big increases in in-patient use of the hospital, numbers of surgeries, numbers of CT scans and numbers of physical therapy treatments. In addition, Zirul said, the population of citizens aged 65 or or older has grown by 69 percent in the last 10 years, contributing to increased demand for services.

Marty Richman, hospital chief executive, said the hospital now has too few in-patient beds. As a result, on 11 days last year, it had to refer patients that could have been treated here to Anchorage hospitals.

Zirul said she expects continued population growth will bring more increases in the demand for services. On top of that, as the hospital adds services, more people seek treatment in Soldotna rather than in Anchorage or elsewhere.

The hospital must adapt to other changes. While the hospital was designed as an in-patient facility, it now derives more than half its revenue from out-patient services such as physical therapy, radiology and laboratory tests.

Zirul said the draft strategic plan contains four initiatives:

n To expand hospital services and programs. That includes preparing for increased use of present services and the addition of new services. The board has discussed adding specialty services, developing programs for patients with chronic diseases, expanding wellness and disease prevention programs and exploring nontraditional services.

The growing population may allow expanded surgical services, such as urology, vascular and back surgery, according to Zirul's presentation. It could provide opportunities to expand critical care, offer in-patient psychiatric services or expand out-patient services, such as diagnostic services, cancer care and dialysis.

n To provide access to a broad range of physicians and health care providers. That includes developing physician recruitment and retention programs, strengthening relationships between the hospital and the medical staff and considering what services the hospital could add.

n To respond to the needs of particular communities. That could include construction of satellite facilities such as the Kenai physical therapy office and the new Kenai clinic, which will offer X-ray and laboratory services.

It also could include improving access at the hospital in Soldotna, strengthening collaborative efforts with the community, strengthening relationships with the borough and enhancing marketing and community relations efforts.

n To demonstrate excellence in the work force, operations, facilities, technology and finances. That includes attracting quality workers, maintaining up-to-date technology, improving information technology, updating and expanding facilities and maintaining a strong financial position.

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