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Mental health services top priority for Saint Alphonsus

Note: The Saint Alphonsus Health System ranks third on the annual IBR Largest Employers TopList, featured in the Aug. 23 Focus section.

Saint Alphonsus Health System formed in April when the 387-bed Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise joined forces with Mercy Medical Center in Nampa, Holy Rosary Medical Center in Ontario, Ore., and St. Elizabeth Health Services in Baker City, Ore.

The new system, which employs 4,300 people full- and part-time in Oregon and Idaho, itself comes under the parent company of Trinity Health, a Catholic health system based in Novi, Mich.

The primary goal of Saint Alphonsus is to improve access to health care in the communities it serves, said Linda Payne Smith, vice president of philanthropy, marketing, communications and advocacy at Saint Alphonsus.

That means hiring more primary care physicians and more specialists and integrating care to make delivery more efficient for patients and providers.

“We’re looking at a full delivery system across our geography,” Payne Smith said.

Among other things, the Saint Alphonsus system tries to serve patients near their homes. If patients can’t stay near home, Saint Alphonsus is working to create a system that will make it as easy as possible for them to continue getting care at another Saint Alphonsus facility in a “seamless” path through the system, Payne Smith said.

Saint Alphonsus is implementing a large-scale electronic health records plan Oct. 15 that will help its providers around Idaho and Oregon communicate and share patient information more easily. Such plans help improve safety and quality of care, Payne Smith said.

And in 2010, Saint Alphonsus started working in partnership with several other groups to provide the Treasure Valley’s only inpatient mental health treatment services, at the new Allumbaugh House in Boise. The health system’s medical director for behavioral health serves as medical director at the Allumbaugh House.

Mental health treatment, a critical need in the Treasure Valley and in Idaho at large, is a priority for Saint Alphonsus. This year, profits from the Saint Alphonsus annual Festival of Trees fundraiser – usually about half a million dollars – will go to the new inpatient center, Payne Smith said.

“The area of greatest need this year is mental health services,” Payne Smith said.

Saint Alphonsus provides $22.8 million in community benefit, which is the money spent by the health system on charity care, programs for the poor, unpaid Medicaid costs, and health activities in the community. The hospital also spends $26 million on unreimbursed Medicare activities and another $10.6 million for bad debt, said Corey Surber, coordinator for advocacy and community benefit.

About Anne Wallace Allen

Anne Wallace Allen is the editor of the Idaho Business Review.

One comment

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