Technology and Leadership Reviving Douglas Hospital

Videoconferencing is Being Used to Broaden Services and Cut Costs

DOUGLAS — In its convalescence, the county-owned, long-struggling hospital in Douglas is expected to bring new services and value to hospitals, clinics, and institutions throughout Cochise County.

In the past year under new management, coming out of its most recent federal bankruptcy process, the facility has seen an overhaul among its administration and vendors. An array of new medical equipment has been installed, a groundbreaking telemedicine communications program is afoot, and the new managers are meeting the hospital’s payroll obligations.

The hospital was built at a time when counties had more frontline responsibility for indigent care, Britt Hansen, the chief civil deputy for the Cochise County Attorney’s Office, explained on Wednesday, during a meeting with the county board of supervisors and representatives of the hospital’s new management firm. For many years, the county leased the hospital to a non-profit medical entity called Southeast Arizona Medical Center, which operated the facility until the firm’s most recent bankruptcy disposition. During those years, the SAMC lease agreement with the county amounted to rent of $1 per year.

“They were always struggling financially, and the last time they came to us, they were hoping they could make it over the hump until Medicaid expansion occurred, until Obamacare kicked in, which would help with providing more funding,” Hansen said. “One of the problems that SAMC had was uninsured people showing up at the hospital, who they had to take care of and pay for, not getting reimbursed for.”

People’s Choice Hospital specializes in picking up distressed hospitals and turning them around financially, and the organization took the helm of Cochise Regional Care and picked up the $1 per year rent, which expired for the new management firm on July 1, 2014.

“We want to come to a meeting of the minds where you’re paying fair rent and the people of Douglas and Cochise County are still getting a hospital,” Hansen said.

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