Alice Hyde Becomes Critical Access Hospital
UVM Health Network – Alice Hyde Medical Center has become a Critical Access Hospital, receiving final approval from state and federal regulators following a months-long process that included a Joint Commission survey, hospital officials announced today.
Alice Hyde’s transition from Sole Community Hospital status to a Critical Access Hospital (CAH) is retroactive to October 1, according to the final letter of approval from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and will not change the scope of services it currently offers, or the care available at its on- or off-campus facilities, said Alice Hyde President Michelle LeBeau.
“Our hospital already operates like a Critical Access Hospital in many ways – but we don’t get the financial benefits that Critical Access Hospitals enjoy,” said LeBeau. “Members of our community can rest assured that Critical Access status won’t reduce services or change the way our patients receive care. This is about doing everything we can to ensure we are here always to provide the care our community needs.”
After submitting its CAH application to state and federal regulators in April, Alice Hyde went through a months-long review and approval process that included New York State Department of Health and CMS. In addition to updating legal documents and hospital policies to bring them in-line with CAH requirements, the hospital also underwent a five-day Joint Commission CAH accreditation survey conducted in late August. The survey, which is similar to triannual accreditation surveys performed at hospitals nationwide, reviewed every aspect of Alice Hyde’s clinical operations, administrative and operational policies and procedures, patient and family experience apparatus, and emergency preparedness and planning.
“Our successful Joint Commission Critical Access Hospital survey confirmed that Alice Hyde has met and exceeded the high bars we set for patient safety, clinical best practices and organizational operations every day,” said Becca Shutts, MSN, RN, Alice Hyde’s Chief Nursing Officer. “This was the culmination of many months of hard work by teams across our hospital.”
Hospital leaders thanked U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles “Chuck” Schumer (D-NY) and Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-21st) for their support and advocacy at the federal level; New York State Governor Kathy Hochul; state Assemblyman Billy Jones (D-115th) and state Senator Dan Stec (R-45th); members of the Franklin County Board of Legislature; New York State Commissioner of Health James McDonald, MD, and officials from New York State Department of Health, including Dr. John Morely, Deputy Commissioner of Primary Care and Health Systems Management, Karen Madden, Director of the Department’s Center for Health Care Policy and Resource Development, and Health Program Administrator Eileen Slocum, for their support as Alice Hyde pursued Critical Access Hospital status.
“Alice Hyde is incredibly fortunate to have engaged elected and appointed leaders at every level who understand the importance of supporting our community hospital as it grows, changes and pursues innovative solutions to the unprecedented challenges facing rural health care organizations today,” said LeBeau. “Their support, and the productive partnership of Dr. McDonald and his team at New York State Department of Health, was critical to our success.”
Both Sen. Schumer and Rep. Stefanik celebrated the hospital’s transition to CAH status as a critical step forward at a time when rural healthcare organizations nationwide are facing unprecedented challenges.
“I am thrilled to announce that Alice Hyde Medical Center has received Critical Access Hospital (CAH) designation, the result of relentless advocacy to secure essential healthcare services for communities across Franklin County. This designation is a game-changer for Alice Hyde, providing enhanced reimbursement rates that will fortify its financial resilience amid the current challenges facing rural health care organizations,” said Senator Schumer. “That’s why I fought so hard last year to reverse CMS’s ill-fated rules change and fought tooth and nail for the CAH program – safeguarding the lifeline of critical medical procedures and lifesaving care for Malone residents. This victory for Alice Hyde underscores the importance of advocating for our rural hospitals in Franklin County and across New York State, ensuring they receive the support they need to thrive for generations to come.”
“I am proud to announce that following my advocacy, Alice Hyde Medical Center has been awarded a Critical Access Hospital designation from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) which will provide the medical center with a financial lifeline, giving them the necessary resources to continue meeting the needs of our community,” said Congresswoman Stefanik. “I am proud to deliver this critical result to ensure Franklin County and the surrounding regions will continue to receive quality care. I will always fight for rural hospitals in NY-21 so families in our rural communities have certainty in their access to lifesaving treatments and care.”
To become a CAH, Alice Hyde had to meet certain eligibility requirements, including:
· Being located in a rural area more than 35 miles from the next nearest hospital.
· Having a maximum of 25 inpatient beds.
· Maintaining an average length of stay of 96 hours or less for patients receiving acute inpatient care.
· Providing 24-hour emergency care seven days per week.
As part of its transition to CAH status, Alice Hyde also instituted a sub-acute care program known as a swing bed program. Swing bed programs allow patients who meet certain eligibility requirements to receive sub-acute care and rehabilitation services that they would otherwise need to transfer to a skilled nursing facility to receive.
All of the hospital’s 25 inpatient beds have been designated as swing beds, and the hospital combined its Intermediate Care and Medical-Surgical Inpatient Care units to give Alice Hyde’s nursing and hospitalist teams more flexibility and support as they respond to patients’ emerging clinical needs throughout the day.
“Utilizing swing beds gives our providers the ability to care for more patients and ensure those patients get the individualized, in-hospital care and rehabilitation services that can help prevent unnecessary hospital readmissions,” said Paul El Azoury, MD, Associate Chief Medical Officer and Director of Alice Hyde’s Hospitalist program.
There are no restrictions on the services a Critical Access Hospital can provide, and Alice Hyde does not expect any service reductions or changes to patient financial support programs as a result of the CAH transition.
Both UVM Health Network and Alice Hyde provide financial assistance programs for patients who meet certain eligibility criteria. The UVM Health Network works with patients to determine if they are eligible for discounted and free care through our Financial Assistance Program. Patients may also qualify for our Health Assistance Program, which covers the cost of medications, dental care, glasses and other medical equipment for low- and middle-income patients. For more information visit UVMHealth.org/Health-Wellness.