Breckenridge Texan

SMH board considers program to bring surgery services back to Breckenridge

SMH board considers program to bring surgery services back to Breckenridge
July 03
13:18 2019

The Stephens Memorial Hospital District Board of Directors is considering setting up a program that would return general surgery services to the hospital. During their meeting on Thursday night, they heard a presentation from Alex Schildt, Vice President of Sales with Rural Physicians Group, and other representatives of the company that operates surgery programs in other rural hospitals around the United States.

“They just came out and looked at our facility, looked at the demographics for the area. Basically it was kind of like a feasibility study just to see if we have the volume and we have the patients,” said Chris Curtis, practice administrator for SMH.

He said they gave board members an overview of what the company could do for SMH on setting up and running a surgery program, versus SMH hiring their own doctors.

“It’s still in the extremely early stages because there are some things we would have to do to the operating room to get it ready for surgeries,” Curtis said.

During the presentation, Schildt gave an overview of how the surgery program would be structured and operated at SMH and provided estimated revenue projections for the program.

The presentation was put together by the group after representatives of the company toured SMH and made an analysis of the facilities to determine some the changes and improvements that would need to be made in order to set up the general surgery program.

When asked by the board if they were operating any other surgery programs in Texas, Schildt said they have a program at Memorial Hospital in Seminole, located about 70 miles south of Lubbock. He said the model they would use in Breckenridge would be similar to one in Seminole.

Schildt said one of the biggest advantages of using a group like Rural Physicians Group to set up and operate the surgery program instead of the hospital doing it themselves, is that it’s easier for the company to recruit and attract qualified surgeons than it is for a small hospital and they would also handle all the aspects of running the program.

The proposed program would have two surgeons who would rotate living in Breckenridge for 14 days at a time. Schildt said each surgeon would set up and operate clinics in Breckenridge, provide all pre-, post- and  follow-up appointments for their patients.

Schildt said when they recruit surgeons for their programs, they like to recruit them from the military because they and their families are used to them being deployed, which works well since they would be living in Breckenridge for 14 days a time.

In addition to be able to offer a general surgery services to SMH and the community of Breckenridge, he said, they would also be providing an additional revenue stream to the hospital since they could pull more patients from surrounding communities. He said by having the service located in Breckenridge, it would make it more convenient for patients who are close to Breckenridge instead of them having to travel to cities that are farther away for the same surgery.

To help get the program going, Schildt said, they would provide SMH with materials to help promote the services that are at the hospital. However, he said, the most effective and important aspect of promoting the services to the community, would be getting the surgeons out into the community to meet the local people.

He said, once the program was set up and operating at the Seminole hospital, they were showing a positive revenue flow by the fourth month of operation of the program.

Curtis said SMH is still in the exploration stage of setting up a general surgery program and that it will probably take a minimum of six months to get going. He said the representatives of the Rural Physicians Group came to the meeting to give them a overview of what would be involved in setting up a program at SMH.

“Basically, it was somebody to tell us what we need to do to get ramped up,” Curtis said.

Story by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan

Cutline, top photo: Alex Schildt, Vice President of Sales with Rural Physicians Group, gives SMH board members an overview of how the company would structure and operate a surgery program at SMH. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

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