Posted on Jun 05, 2024
Last week we got an update on UC Health’s “North Market” from Kevin Unger, RCFC member and CEO of PVH and MCR hospitals. He was introduced by another prestigious RCFC member: his father, Don Unger. The “nearby” hospitals in the system also include UCH Greeley Hospital and Yampa Valley Medical center in Steamboat. In addition, there are “affiliate hospitals” in the UC Health system located in NE and WY – Sydney Regional, Ivinson Memorial, Cheyenne Regional and Campbell County (Gillette). All their CEOs are UCH employees and use the Epic electronic medical record. 
Kevin started with data about the entire UC Health System – this is the largest health system in CO and the only health system providing care in CO that is based in CO. UCH currently cares for 2.7 million patients per year, has more than 34,000 employees and orients from 40-85 new employees per week. The previously high numbers of travelling (think more expensive) employees are down to pre -COVID levels. Behavioral health continues to grow, currently at 130,000 visits per year.
UCH enjoys a not-for-profit status. In lieu of state taxes, “community benefits” are provided – patients unable to pay are cared for and preventative efforts for children and the elderly are provided through programs like the Healthy Kids Club and Aspen Club. These community benefits are valued at $107million per annum. Patients from every CO zip code have been seen. UCH is the largest Medicaid provider in the state. More than 1300 physicians have been trained through the system, helping with the primary care physician shortage.
Locally (PVH, MCR and Greeley) the annual numbers are – 34,400 admissions and observations, 3900 deliveries, 18,500 surgeries, 1,943,000 outpatient visits, 79,200 urgent care visits and 161,600 emergency visits. Three new primary care clinics are set to open this year – one in south Ft Collins near Walmart, one on the Berthoud/Loveland boundary and one in Greeley. Next year a 4th clinic will open on the corner of Prospect and Lemay.
Every 3 years a survey of the communities is conducted to ensure the system is meeting the health needs of those communities. The current focus is on behavioral health, increased access (eg, Telehealth) and coordination of care for chronic diseases. Almost 70% of our patients are governmentally insured (Medicare & Medicaid) or have no insurance. Medicaid has been growing dramatically in recent years.
 UCH is committed to providing high quality behavioral health. Primary care clinics are “integrated” – ie, all PC care offices have a psychiatrist, psychologist or counsellor on site. Behavioral health beds will soon be moved from Mountain Crest to the main hospital to provide patients medical and behavioral needs all at one site (most patients admitted for psych care are admitted through the PVH ED and currently transferred to Mountain Crest). PVH supplies social workers to the Ft Collins police department when psychosocial needs are identified on police calls, often de-escalating situations and keeping behavioral health cases out of the ER when acute medical is unnecessary. A first-of-its-kind event was recently held where former patients and EMS providers were reunited illustrating the complexity of emergency care in the field. Practical needs are met at the PVH Food Pantry located at the Family Medicine Center  serving 175 people per day (physicians can “prescribe” food as part of their treatment plan).
The safety of PVH, MCR and Greeley employees is a “new” focus - an increase in bad behavior some patients and their families (workplace violence) has led to the implementation of a Visitor Management System with ID “badging” of over (so far)1 million visitors. Workplace safety is especially important to keep the healthcare professions attractive.
On the topic of innovation, new methods of virtual patient surveillance are being used for early detection of inpatient deterioration.
PVH and MCR are Magnet Hospitals. Greeley Medical center will soon have a Pathways of Excellence designation for its nurses.
Performance at this level can be quantified – in one recent year 54 additional lives were saved from sepsis, 159 lives were saved, there were 860 fewer readmissions and 16,626 additional days at home with family were enjoyed (as compared with average hospitals). Inpatient Hospice was recently created at PVH and Greeley, (partnering with Pathways) avoiding the need to transfer patients to another location for hospice care.
Over the past 2 1/2 years almost the entire PVH facility has been physically renovated. Last Wednesday ribbon cutting was done signally an end to the chaos. The staff is to be congratulated for having put up with this long period of distraction and disorder. The RCFC audience was encouraged to visit the renovated space, especially the new entry and lobby.
MCR has just broken ground for a new tower which will increase the number of beds by 140 as well as increase the services of the ED, Imaging Center and Cardiology. MCR is a level 1 trauma center serving northern Colorado, southern Wyoming and the panhandle of Nebraska. Parking is a known problem at all facilities and will be addressed with the MCR expansion. At that point Kevin stopped speaking to allow Q & A.
We appreciate Kevin’s time today and the high-quality patient experience we enjoy thanks to UC Health in northern Colorado.