WMC Is Ready for Public Tours on Saturday
The Wyoming Medical Center's new McMurry West Tower will be ready for its open house Saturday.
The public tours will take place between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
The $43.7 million West Tower dominates the hospital's campus in the 1200 block of East Second Street.
The 100,000-square-foot addition features the new main entrance, an expanded kitchen and dining area, a healing garden for visitors to enjoy some quiet, an expanded chapel, the entire third floor for the Ruth R. Ellbogen Family, Mother and Baby Center, and the entire fourth floor for the Jerry Behrens MD Orthopedic, Spine and General Surgery Center.
The hospital will begin moving equipment to the new tower during the first week of October, WMC President Vickie Diamond said. The kitchen and cafeteria facilities will be transferred later that month, and patients will be moved there in November, she added.
In other developments, the hospital plans to break ground on its clinic on the west side of Casper in October and anticipates the clinic's opening in June, Diamond said during the monthly meeting of the board of trustees of the Memorial Hospital of Natrona County. The trustees, appointed by the county commission, oversee the lease of the county's hospital's assets by the nonprofit Wyoming Medical Center Inc. The lease requires the WMC to care for those who cannot afford to pay and prisoners at the county jail.
Trustee Forest Irons asked Diamond about recent reports about the effects of expanding Medicaid -- the joint federal-state health insurance program for the poor.
Diamond said hospitals in the 26 states that have adopted the expansion have seen a drop in emergency room visits. The expansion also has lead to a decline in uncompensated care, the charity care and bad debt hospitals must write off. Wyoming's Legislature has repeated rejected Medicaid expansion.
The hospital's chief financial officer Yvonne Wigington reported on the uncompensated care the WMC wrote off in July, the first month of the 2014-2015 fiscal year. It amounted to $4.9 million, or 12.9 percent of the hospital's gross revenues.
Bad debts recently have been a result of employers having employees pay higher deductibles to keep their health insurance premiums low.
But prospective patients sometimes do not have enough to pay thousands of dollars to meet those higher deductibles, and Wigington said the WMC has been offering financial counselors.
Trustee Kim Holloway complimented the hospital for that educational effort.
"I don't think a lot of people understand their own policies," Holloway said.
"Sure you have your auto insurance and you kind of understand what a deductible is," she said. "But it's so much different in health care and it can be so much higher, that I just don't think that people realize when they get a plan what their financial responsibility is for those bills when they come in."