By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News
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The seven hospital commissioners voted unanimously Wednesday night to spend $73,087 plus tax on Sandman sleep software and associated equipment for a combined sleep center at the Sequim medical plaza at 840 N. Fifth Ave.
“In June, we’re going to open up a great new center, and this software equipment is key,” said Eric Lewis, OMC chief executive officer.
OMC last May hired Dr. Michael McDonald to revive an accredited but out-of-service sleep-medicine program that includes a Port Angeles lab and a clinic in Sequim.
McDonald and sleep lab supervisor Lindsay Johnson have been working with Olympic Medical Physicians to develop a consolidated sleep center, while also working with Swedish Medical Center, OMC’s affiliate, to plan for the next phase of sleep medicine on the North Olympic Peninsula.
“Our sleep program at Olympic Medical Center is flourishing under the clinical leadership of Dr. Mike McDonald and the lab leadership of Lindsay Johnson,” said Dr. Scott Kennedy, chief medical officer.
Kennedy said the new software and equipment — cameras, amplifiers, wireless devices and computers — will create a “cutting-edge” sleep-monitoring-interpretation system.
“It’s going to be stellar,” McDonald added.
McDonald said the new equipment will benefit the program because it “won’t fail us in the middle of a study.”
Because OMC is part of a larger buying group with Seattle-based Swedish, the public hospital district saved at least $16,000 on the price of the software and equipment.
“The other thing is the cost of maintaining this type of equipment becomes a lot less expensive working in the context of this affiliation buying group,” Kennedy said.
“So we’re very pleased to have an optimized price.”
Later in the meeting, Lewis briefed commissioners on developments in Washington, D.C., and Olympia that could impact OMC.
The “fiscal cliff” legislation that Congress approved in early January resolved a cut to physician reimbursement by reducing inpatient reimbursement for hospitals.
The reduction will result in a $2 million cut to OMC over four years, beginning in October.
If the federal government enacts sweeping budget cuts known as sequestration March 1, OMC would lose $1.2 million annually because of a 2 percent cut in Medicare reimbursement.
Medicare is 56 percent of OMC’s business, and the hospital is reimbursed about 85 percent what it costs to treat Medicare patients.
“We’re working with our elected officials, and I think they’re in support of stopping further Medicare reimbursement cuts,” Lewis said.
“These cuts, on top of what we’re currently reimbursed, are really challenging on the Medicare side.”
At the state level, Lewis announced that state Reps. Kevin Van De Wege and Steve Tharinger, both Sequim Democrats, and state Sen. Jim Hargrove, D-Hoquiam, all of whom represent Clallam and Jefferson counties in Olympia, have co-sponsored legislation that would protect the financial viability of medium-sized rural hospitals like OMC.
House Bill 1916 and Senate Bill 5829 would increase Medicaid outpatient reimbursement for sole community hospitals by 25 percent. OMC is currently reimbursed 53 percent of the cost.
“It’s a big positive,” Lewis said.
“I think our elected officials should be thanked for sponsoring this legislation and trying to get it through.”
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5072, or at email@example.com.