Lincoln Community Hospital and Nursing Home: Herman Schreivogel, Chief Executive Officer

by HCE Exchange on February 25, 2013

Lincoln Community Hospital and Nursing Home is a 25-bed critical-access hospital in the small town of Hugo, Colo. With a service area of 5,000, it is the only hospital conveniently located for local residents. The nearest hospital to the north is 80 miles away, the nearest hospital to the east 70 miles away, the nearest hospital to the south 80 miles away, and the nearest hospital to the west is 100 miles away.

Lincoln has an attached skilled-nursing home that is licensed for 35 beds. It also offers home health, hospice, cataract surgery, and an ambulance service.

Being 10 miles off the Interstate and next to a major truck route between Texas and Canada, it also picks up a tremendous amount of volume from truckers and other passersby. Incredibly, four semi-trucks pass through Hugo every three minutes.

Knowing who they are

Herman Schreivogel, chief executive officer, places great emphasis on Lincoln being aware of who it is and the purpose for its existence in Hugo. In an era when so many rural hospitals are trying to keep up with the urban hospitals, Schreivogel advocates a steady approach, maintaining what Lincoln has and expanding discriminately and wisely.

For example, Lincoln is currently in the process of building a new clinic in Limon, Colo., which is 15 miles to the west.  Schreivogel has clearly outlined its purpose—it is a family-practice clinic. Initially, there will be a medical doctor and a nurse practitioner on staff.

“We’ll see how things go to see if that’s going to be adequate as far as care providers,” he said.

Beyond that, his sole concern is getting the clinic up and running. The groundbreaking was in April, and Schreivogel is hoping to have it opened no later than Sept. 1 of this year.

The hospital itself is in the process of installing digital mammography, which will enable Lincoln to perform diagnostic mammograms. This installation also has a purpose that has nothing to do with “keeping up” with larger facilities. Schreivogel wants to ensure that his patients, most of whom depend on Medicare, won’t have to drive to the city.

However, Lincoln still won’t be able to do biopsies. And that’s a limitation it is willing to have at this time.

“Money’s always a challenge”

By now, it’s no shock to hear an executive lament the state of reimbursements and expenditures in modern healthcare. Perhaps it’s the fact that he’s nearing retirement and has much experience to reflect upon, but Schreivogel doesn’t panic over the impending changes or cuts.

After all, when hasn’t money been a challenge for virtually any healthcare institution? Schreivogel chooses to focus on other positives instead.

“We’re very fortunate that we’re well-staffed and we maintain staff well and we haven’t used pool nurses for over six years,” he stated. “That’s a big benefit in having a stable staff.”

As he looks down the road, he prefers to not get overly excited. When it comes to electronic medical records, he simply says, “We’re working on it.”

Beyond the clinic and digital mammography, Schreivogel is also not making any additional equipment investments. In fact, he’s more inclined to rent or lease equipment if possible, because most healthcare technology outdates so quickly.

Lincoln leases its MRI, and its four-slice CT scan, also leased, is in the process of being upgraded to a 16-slice CT scan. Rather than having to purchase it, though, Lincoln extended the lease contract for another three years.

Everyone’s involved

When it comes to infection control and quality care, Schreivogel said that he has delegated those tasks to a few RNs, but really, the entire facility is responsible for these initiatives.

“The whole facility is involved in quality care,” he observed. “We’re a little town out in the middle of nowhere and our objective is to do everything local that we possibly can so our residents around here don’t have to go to the city.”

With Medicare cuts and rising gas prices, Lincoln and Schreivogel are all too aware of the financial burdens many of its patients bear. As a result, Schreivogel wants to make as many services local as possible, bringing in specialists from the city to assist.

His goal is to continue on the current trajectory, doing what Lincoln is already doing, while watching the back-end and squeezing every cent that is possible out of its dollars.

“Everything’s going to change, but I really don’t know how,” he said. “We’re in such a position that we don’t really need to worry because of our location. It’s my plan to continue getting things done here and providing the best care we can on a local basis.”

-by Pete Fernbaugh

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