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WMC official: Hospital is on the road to recovery

November 29, 2012
By LINDA HARRIS - Staff writer , The Herald-Star

WEIRTON - Weirton Medical Center's director of operations told the Rotary Club of Weirton Wednesday he thinks the hospital is on the road to fiscal recovery.

Operations Director David Artman told Rotarians the hospital is growing services and facilities.

"We definitely are turning it around," he said, adding, "We're going to expand services lines to better serve the community. It's based on the needs of the community."

Article Photos

ROTARY GUEST — Rotary Club of Weirton President Mike Gianni, right, listens as David Artman, director of operations at Weirton Medical Center, explains changes in the works at the hospital. Artman was the guest speaker at the club’s luncheon meeting Wednesday at Williams Country Club. - Linda Harris

Artman said they've opened a satellite office at 560 Steubenville Pike, Burgettstown. A pediatric practice has already opened, and they'll be doing internal medicine and surgical consultations there as well.

"We started to look at expanding eastward," he said, "and there's a need in Burgettstown."

He said they've already finished renovating the new office space, and pointed out the move is feasible because WMC is now a participating provider with Highmark and Security Blue of Western Pennsylvania.

"Before, we weren't able to service those patients," he said, adding the contract with Highmark/Security Blue "opens it up."

"They're the dominant services" in Western Pennsylvania, he said.

Artman, meanwhile, also said WMC is looking to expand its vascular services, adding a cath lab and chest pain center and beefing up its digital mammography and breast surgery program.

"We have a new general surgeonand a new neurosurgeon who will do office (hours) and surgery at WMC," he said.

Additionally, they'll be offering outpatient gastro-intestinal procedures to area residents.

He said the changes are designed to strengthen the hospital as well as address needs in its service base.

"The goal of the hospital is to serve the community," Artman said. "I think we have a major opportunitythat will make (us) viable for a long time."

And Artman said a strong hospital "is a necessary part of the community."

"This is your hospital, it's a community hospital," he added. "You deserve for it to be viable."

But he said the new Affordable Health Care Act, popularly known as "Obama Care," is putting added pressure on the health care community to perform at high levels.

"It's a different model for health care reimbursements," he said.

Up to now, Medicare reimbursements were based on diagnosis; now, the nation is moving to "value-based purchasing," the goal of which is to penalize under-performing hospitals by rerouting a percentage of their Medicare payments to hospitals "with better metrics in terms of quality and service."

In 2013, he said hospital performance will be measured by clinical care measures (70 percent) and patient satisfaction (30 percent). In 2014 they'll be judged by outcomes. The clinical process will use results from July 2009 to March 2010 as a baseline against which performance for July 2011 to March 2012 will be measured.

In 2013, those clinical care measures will focus on four areas acute myocardial infarction, heart failure, pneumonia and surgical care improvement.

The following year, however, they'll also be judged by 30-day mortality, eight hospital-acquired infection and nine other indicators, like patient safety, in-patient quality indicators and composite measures.

"It's important that hospitals get it right," he said, noting that 1 percent of Medicare reimbursements will be at risk in 2013, and 2 percent in 2014. That means $100,000 will be on the line in 2013 for a facility with $10 million in Medicare in-patient payments, and twice that in 2014.

"Medicare will take money away (from under-performing hospitals) and redistribute it to hospitals performing at higher levels," he said.

"We've obviously budgeted for this, we've seen it coming and know what we'll probably earn back in dollars," he added.

The club meets at noon Wednesdays at Williams Country Club.

(Harris can be contacted at

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