Wyoming Medical Center: Vickie Diamond, Chief Executive Officer

by HCE Exchange on March 6, 2013

With 192 beds and a service-catchment area of over 100,000 people in five surrounding counties, Wyoming Medical Center, located in Casper, Wyo., carries a great deal of the healthcare load for its sparsely populated state.

Some of the surrounding towns have critical-access hospitals, but many do not, making WMC the regional health center for the state, primarily because of its central location. WMC also handles a majority of Wyoming’s trauma cases, plus it has the only CAMTS-accredited flight program that is headquartered in the state.

When HCE last spoke with WMC (http://www.healthcareix.com/2011/05/wyomingmedicalcentervickiediamondchiefexecutiveofficer/) the organization was focusing on safety initiatives and capital investments.

WMC has experienced great success in those areas, and along the way, it has discovered a renewed commitment to the health and wellness of its employees and by extension, its community.

Making personal health a premium

Vickie Diamond, in her fifth year as chief executive officer of WMC, said the hospital is working diligently to be a community leader in promoting health prevention and wellness. This starts with its employee.

Two years ago, WMC conducted a mandatory health assessment that helped employees set personal health goals based on the feedback from the assessment. Employees had a year to meet those goals, and if an employee did meet them, they would not experience an increase in their insurance premiums.

If the goals were not met, they would receive another year to do case management. As long as they stayed in the case-management program, the premiums would not go up. Once they dropped out, the premiums would increase.

Diamond said this program is especially significant since WMC is self-insured, and she was pleased to report that out of 1500 people in the health plan, only about 100 would be paying extra.

“We’ve done just a tremendous job with that, with case management, and our employees that need more help,” she stated. “We’ve done a really good job with trying to keep our health expenses down.”

Assisting its employees

To motivate and encourage WMC employees to achieve their health goals, WMC has constructed a weight-loss center, promoted an ideal-protein program, and established a wellness committee that promotes walks, challenges, and massages for employees. WMC also provides information about healthy eating, including the placement of nutritional information on all of the food in the cafeteria so employees can make wise and healthy choices.

During the month of March, the hospital held No Fried Fridays, in an effort to get away from fried food.

“We’re starting out slowly, but it’s a big satisfier for particularly the families, and so we are trying to work on healthier eating and actually just making healthy choices available in the cafeteria,” Diamond said. “By just putting the calories and how many grams of protein and fat and carbohydrates on every food item, it makes it a lot easier for people to make good choices.”

Passion for safety and quality

As Diamond enters her fifth year as president, her background as a nurse and nurse practitioner becomes even more valuable, and her passion for safety and quality has never been stronger.

“I come at [healthcare leadership] from a different perspective,” she stated. “I think it really helps me know how care’s delivered, and it’s really holding people accountable, working well with medical staff to raise the level of quality in the organization and actually producing data that they can believe.”

It’s a challenge to be a standalone entity in the current healthcare environment. Diamond said WMC is always wondering if they should affiliate with a larger organization. Plus, there’s the need to maximize on the current reimbursement system, while preparing for its next iteration.

“I think the challenges are having one foot on the dock and one in the boat as this system transforms,” she said.

Diamond has helped to form the Wyoming Integrated Care Network, a group of hospitals and other organizations that have come together in an effort to unite Wyoming hospitals in the smaller communities in working toward commonly held goals. This has been dubbed the Wyoming Solution.

“We’ve been working on that, because Wyoming’s unique in the sense that we have low population and we’re geographically spread apart,” Diamond said. “And it’s hard having one primary-care physician out in those small communities day after day, so we’re addressing what we can do to help support that.”

Making great strides in patient care

WMC is in the midst of a two-year journey to make the hospital safer, and to accomplish this, the leadership has engaged every employee and physician in achieving these goals. As a result, WMC has seen some amazing results.

“Serious safety events are down,” Diamond said. “We analyze anything that puts the patient at risk that was preventable and put an immediate process in place. We have a staff briefing every morning to talk about the past 24 hours and any safety issues that occurred and follow up on them.”

Its heart center has also seen an incredible reduction in door-to-balloon time. The national average is 90 minutes, and WMC has a mean of 47 minutes. Diamond said the hospital is also trying to shorten the door-to-balloon time for patients who are transported to the hospital from remote areas.

“The problem is our distances factor into that,” she explained. “We fly people in from all over.”

Still, it’s this forward progress that Diamond continues to cultivate at WMC, regardless of what happens in Washington. She’s quick to clarify that she’s not nervous about the future. She’s ready.

“I wish we had more information about how long reform is going to play out. If we could have those answers, we could plan better, so it’s not a sense of nervousness, it’s a sense of readiness and knowing what the right thing is to do to position your organization so you could flip the switch when that reimbursement system comes into play.”

-by Patricia Chaney and Pete Fernbaugh

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