SCOTTSBLUFF, Neb., ― Regional West Health Services (RWHS) is a Nebraska not-for-profit corporation, which operates a 188-bed hospital [Regional West Medical Center (RWMC)] in Scottsbluff, Nebraska. In 2016, RWHS identified several major construction projects that were necessary to maintain and enhance the patient safety, comfort and care, and to expand our much needed critical care capacity. Similar to states, counties, schools, and municipalities, funding for such projects is provided by using long-term, low fixed rate bonds. As part of that process, an independent company issues a bond rating annually. For 2019, Regional West’s rating was lowered from BBB to BB+ (Fitch).

In their commentary Fitch noted that the reduced revenues which led to the downgrade were the result of major issues with a new Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system. The new system was installed in the fall of 2018. While the EMR system enhances patient care, safety and communication, it also disrupted billing and revenue cycle processes. The Fitch review also commented that with the facility upgrades and the addition of twenty critical care beds, the budget and operational picture could be much improved in 2020.

The Board of Directors of Regional West Health Services and Regional West Medical Center have been, and continue to be, aware of and involved with the ongoing efforts to require the EMR provider to correct the issues. The EMR is better but not yet up to our expectations. It is important to note that the RWHS’s and RWMC’s sixteen-member board of directors are made up of community members, physicians, and RWHS officers. Our board members live here and care deeply about excellent quality care and patient safety.

It is also extremely important for the communities and region we serve to know:

1. Regional West continues to employ over 1,900 dedicated, quality health care professionals. In 2019, RWHS successfully completed their regulatory survey by The Joint Commission. The Joint Commission intensively reviews the practices and procedures, health care protocols, and outcomes of hospitals. In 2019, 75% of those hospitals reviewed required a second review to correct The Commission’s findings. Regional West ranked among the top tier hospitals nationally, with no second review required.

2. In 2019, Regional West Physicians Clinic recruited nineteen new physicians and providers. These talented individuals are great additions to our community and ensure quality care at RWHS. Ten additional providers have committed for 2020.

3. The Regional West Foundation raised over $2,000,000 to acquire a “state of the art” robotic surgery system. The da Vinci Xi is on site and will be in service this month. In addition, RWHS is expanding services through telehealth and virtual care from mobile devices.

4. RWMC is a Regional Referral Center and one of three Level II Trauma Centers in the State of Nebraska. Many lives are saved each year because of RWHS’s commitment to maintaining their Level II status along with Air Link and other key services.

5. The boards of directors are steadfast in their commitment to maintaining RWHS’s independent status. RWHS is similarly committed to maintaining and enhancing the many partnerships that we utilize in order to provide the region with access to the highest level of care. Some of these partnerships include Medical Center of the Rockies, UC Health Anschutz Cancer Center, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Rural Nebraska Health Network, Bryan Health, HealthOne, and others.

The board members, officers, and staff are committed to working with the EMR provider to resolve the outstanding issues. As always, we are totally committed to the communities and region we serve with quality and caring health care services.

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