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Letter to the editor: Banner Health statement Re: Goshen Care Center

Modified: Wednesday, Jun 25th, 2014

For nearly 15 years, Banner Health has been making a difference in people’s lives through excellent patient care. Since the 1950s, Banner Health and our predecessor organization Lutheran Health System have operated the Goshen Care Center in Torrington. We take pride in the quality of care given to residents in that time.

Personnel law prohibits us from commenting on recent allegations about the Care Center made by a former employee in this forum. We will say that for many years, your County Commissioners and Board of Trustees for the Goshen Care Center have expressed confidence in Banner Health by continuing to renew the lease agreement for Banner to operate the Goshen Care Center and Evergreen Court. We also believe that numerous ratings by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid reflect our high level of performance.

Our decision to transfer operation of the Goshen Care Center is not a decision we have made lightly. The Goshen Care Center Board currently subsidizes care provided to residents at the Goshen Care Center at a cost of about $35 per resident per day. This is the result of our commitment to maintain a higher level of staffing than is required by the state of Wyoming. In addition, the Alzheimer’s unit requires an even higher level of staffing, but the low Medicaid reimbursement in Wyoming makes providing that care a costly challenge.

We do want to clarify questions raised about whether we provide enough nursing care to serve our residents.

We create our work schedules with more nurses than what the state requires. In most cases, nurse managers on call can cover for an employee who is unable to work a shift, or we turn to a contracted agency that provides trained nurses. If the shift does end up not covered, our staffing ratios (the number of residents per nurse) are still better than what the state mandates.

In the next few weeks, we will turn over operations of the Goshen Care Center to a new operator whose main focus is the management of long-term care facilities. We are hopeful the new operators will build on what we have established for the betterment of the center and the community and be able to work within the challenges posed by Wyoming’s low Medicaid reimbursement.

Banner Health has an excellent track record in operating the Goshen Care Center. We have many positive stories from current and former patients, as well as current and former employees who take pride in the care they have given your friends and family members.

As one of the largest employers in Goshen County, Banner Health looks forward to being the community’s partner in health care services at Community Hospital and Banner Health Clinic for many years to come.

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