Since 1945, Gray Harbor Community Hospital (GHCH) and its providers have served the unique needs of the greater Grays Harbor area. As social and economic conditions present both challenge and opportunity, the hospital continues to seek new ways to provide superior service and exceptional medical care to the community.

 RHC-Initiative-West-Campus.
Grays Harbor Community Hospital includes four primary care clinics. By providing higher Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements, the Rural Health Clinic initiative will allow GHCH to expand primary care options and better serve the community. Photo courtesy: Grays Harbor Community Hospital

As a key initiative in meeting that mission, in early 2017 GHCH CEO Tom Jensen, his executive team and Harbor Medical Group providers, began the journey of transitioning the primary care clinics to a hospital-based Rural Health Clinic (RHC) designation.

“The hospital-based RHC designation significantly increases current reimbursement for primary care services and reduces hospital costs in subsidizing the clinics,” explains Jensen. “This will enhance the hospital’s ability to expand access to care, which is profoundly needed within our community.”

Between 75 and 80 percent of patients in Grays Harbor use a form of government-subsidized health insurance, while the national average is closer to 37 percent. Unfortunately, governmental reimbursements are not keeping pace with the rising costs of providing health care. This results in negative financial implications for any healthcare system.

RHC Initiative Ron Oman
Ron Oman, ARNP, is one of the stellar nurse practitioners caring for patients in the Highland Family Medicine clinic. Photo courtesy: Grays Harbor Community Hospital

Another key benefit of the RHC designation is that it bolsters the hospital’s ability to recruit providers who are dedicated to rural medicine into financially sustainable practices.

“Our primary care providers are the backbone of our mission to heal, comfort and serve the community with compassion,” states Jensen. “With RHC, we can promise providers both patient population and competitive reimbursement.”

To achieve hospital-based RHC designation and qualify for increased reimbursement, clinics must meet several requirements:

  • The clinic must provide services in a rural, underserved area.
  • The clinic must provide outpatient primary care and basic laboratory services.
  • The clinic must include a team approach of physicians and nurse practitioners (NP) and/or physician assistants (PA). Each of the GHCH primary care clinics includes at least one NP or PA on staff, providing exceptional patient care in close collaboration with physicians.
RHC Initiative MA in lab
To qualify as a Rural Health Clinic, clinics must provide outpatient primary care and basic lab services in a rural, underserved area. They must also include a team of physicians working in collaboration with nurse practitioners or physician assistants. Photo courtesy: Grays Harbor Community Hospital

“The Rural Health Clinic designation is a win for everyone,” says Jensen. “As our financial viability improves through enhanced reimbursement, it will support our efforts to grow our primary care and expand services to the community.”

Whether you choose to see one of the outstanding physicians at GHCH or one of the stellar NPs or PAs on staff, now is a great time to establish primary care. The GHCH primary care clinics include Internal and Family Medicine, Highland Family Medicine and Hoquiam Clinic. The Montesano Clinic will be RHC-certified later this summer.

Beginning August 6, the first step is as easy as calling the centralized contact center for Grays Harbor Community Hospital physician clinics at 866-537-APPT (866-537-2778). Representatives will connect you with the clinic of your choice in Hoquiam, Aberdeen or Montesano.

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