HMS to takeover clinic
August 1, 2018
After months of uncertainty, closed door executive sessions and rumors based on suspicions it was finally revealed on Aug. 7 at the Saratoga Town Council meeting the fate of Dr. Bryan Kaiser and his relationship with the Town of Saratoga via the lease of the Platte Valley Medical Clinic. Saratoga Mayor Ed Glode began the discussion with a letter addressed to Kaiser from the Town of Saratoga.
“The purpose of this letter,” Glode read, “is to inform you that the Town of Saratoga will not renew or renegotiate the current lease when it expires.”
Will Faust, town council member and representative on the Platte Valley Medical Board, took a moment to make a statement in regards to the municipality declining to renew the lease it had with Kaiser.
“I’ve spent the last eight months researching, digging into rural healthcare systems and models. I’ve interviewed numerous healthcare professionals and have come to the realization that our provider and our clinic, at least in our situation, is an unsustainable model given the complexities in today’s healthcare,” said Faust.
Faust continued, stating that changing providers was nothing new for the clinic and that he was asking for people’s patience and understanding in the transition before announcing that Health Management Services, LLC. (HMS) would be stepping into the space left by the newly-created vacancy at the clinic.
“The good and most recently developing news is there is a successor for our clinic tentatively,” Faust said. “HMS services, who is not a stranger to our community — they currently operate the nursing home facility — has tremendous experience in this space.”
Following comments from other members of the council in which Richard Raymer noted his knowledge of the difficulties of the medical business within the Valley, Karl Rude, president and owner of HMS, was given the floor.
“We stand here, ready to move into the future,” said Rude. “There have been, as we’ve projected, phases to what it is that we are trying to accomplish and the first of which was stabilizing the nursing home. We have had support from individuals and families in this community that have helped us get to a point where we are stabilized. We have had help from the state to come in and stabilize us further. The nursing home is in a position where we are ready to look at what the next steps are. Stabilization and unification of the clinic will be the next thing. We are hoping that there is limited disruption and no interruption of care availability to the community, that you will see continuity close of business on Friday, open of business on Monday the first and we’ll move forward.”
Rude continued, stating that he believed the community needed to recognize that the current healthcare model within the Valley could not succeed.
“We have started talking with concerned community members, we’ve gathered to a point that we have a steering committee that is exploring what future development will be in this Valley and we’re looking at the possibility of building a critical access hospital right here in Saratoga,” said Rude.
The president of HMS went on to state that he felt that the critical access hospital (CAH) would ensure stability for healthcare within the Valley as well as providing economic stability in the form of employment. After announcing his plans for the CAH, Rude assured those gathered in the town hall that he believed that their healthcare needs would continue to be met and informed them that, in the future, town hall meetings with open question formats would be available for people to comment.
The biggest concern among some of the gathered Saratoga residents, however, was not the CAH but the future of Kaiser. Some members of the audience, such as Cindy Bloomquist and Janet Kenneday, stressed how important the doctor had been for their medical needs.
“We’re talking a year. You’ve only given him a year. You know that that’s not enough time to create stability or sustainability or any of that. I think we have to give some consideration to our doctor that’s on board right now,” said Kenneday.
“I have been here for 16 years and, in all that time, I’ve been at the clinic and more recently have (had) some strange lung problems and I want to say, first, that this is the finest doctor I’ve ever worked with. He’s helped me figure it out with National Jewish (Hospital) and he’s done things that nobody else bothered to do and I think he’s one of the smartest doctors I’ve ever worked with and it’s great regret on my part that this all happened behind closed doors,” said Bloomquist.
Bloomquist asked Rude if, on Oct. 1 when the PVMC opened under the management of HMS, there would be a full time doctor on staff to ensure continuity of healthcare.
“Are we going to have a doctor in this town when he’s gone?” asked Bloomquist.
“I am telling you that on day one that I will not have a full time doctor in the clinic,” replied Rude.
Following further public comment, the council voted to authorize Glode to sign the letter that informed Kaiser of the unrenewed lease and to follow through with HMS assuming management of the clinic.
This is a developing story and the Saratoga Sun will keep you informed. Questions, comments and concerns are encouraged in the form of Letters to the Editor.