New faces have joined Western Plains Medical Complex CEO Kerri Tirman as the new chief nursing officer and chief financial officer, were welcomed into Dodge City recently.

Jay Fogg became the new CNO approximately 4 weeks ago with CFO Ryan Pugh, joining about 3 months ago.

"We were building the team and bringing in leadership to not be on a interim basis," Tirman said. "This is a permanent team in place."

Fogg grew up in New Hampshire and has more than 24 years military experience with the Navy Corps and Air Force.

He began working in the medical field when he was 18.

"This is my first job with Lifepoint (Health, owner of WPMC)," Fogg said. "I have always been very impressed with the team."

Pugh grew up in Utah and received his education through many colleges throughout the Utah area.

"This is the first time as a CFO," Pugh said. "I started in accounts payable at another Lifepoint hospital in Utah and have been in healthcare finance the past 6 years."

Tirman joined WPMC in July this year, who came from Ohio.

Several of the issues Tirman and his team have began to address is physician recruitment.

"We have brought in Dr. (Andrew) Adams, a surgeon, who has been a good addition to the community," Tirman said. "He is a top-notch surgeon and is fluent in English, Spanish, French and I believe a little bit of Portuguese.

"But what we are doing here is providing the best quality care and be fiscally responsible to where our finances take care of themselves.

"We have a cath lab, Dr. (Muhammad

) Kahn with cardiology, 24-hour emergency room and are chest pain accredited."

Tirman also emphasized the importance of educating patients to better take care of themselves to avoid having to come back into the hospital.

"Our re-admission rates are low," he said. "But we are still improving. We are educating ourselves constantly and developing more knowledge and leadership investing.

"We are never done."

WPMC is also working to get patients better resources throughout the community.

Tirman said they work with Catholic charities with needs but also stated that patients have a choice in the care they get in Dodge City.

"We have the capacity here," he said. "It is Federal law to take care of patients that come in to the ER regardless of insurance status, but we also have financial programs for people that need assistance that isn't an emergency.

"We have a 24-month, zero interest account that people can use as long as they make their payments.

"We support Dodge City and Dodge City supports us."

The tools WPMC is using to treat patients is expanding as well.

Some of the key tools being used are telemedicine, which is the use of telecommunication and information technology from a distance.

Being in a rural area, the telemedicine has been expanding throughout southwest Kansas.

Recently, Reflection Living on 6th Avenue, has become a part of telemedicine use with their patients medications.

"We have a radiologist here but we also use telemedicine with a radiologist in Denver that coordinates with us," Tirman said. "It gives us a level of expertise we never could have otherwise."

Another tool in the ER is that of an Indemand interpreting system.

The interpreting system has more than 180 languages including sigh language, that can be used to speak with patients who come into the ER.

According to WPMC staff, there are 28 different languages being used in Dodge City alone.

According to Tirman, WPMC has a shortage of six physicians they are actively in recruitment of.

WPMC partners with Wesley Medical Center out of Wichita who have physicians come to Dodge City a couple days a month.

"Patients are seen here in town," Tirman said. "If a surgery is needed then the surgery is done here, or if the physician suggests the patient go to Wichita, we get them to Wichita.

"With the sub-specialists, we normally wouldn't be able to afford them and we plan to expand our sub-specialties here in town."

With the possibility of a mid-level college coming into Dodge City for medical providers, Tirman says they are actively involved with Wichita State University and University of Kansas.

"We are very excited about the possibility of the college," Tirman said. "And if weren't doing a good job ourselves than Wichita State wouldn't want to work with us, KU wouldn't want to work with us, so there is great stuff going on and the numbers are very good to take care of the people in Dodge City."

WSU is working on a physicians assistant program with KU doing physicians training at the potential school that could be going into the St. Mary of the Plains campus in Dodge City.

"We are also developing a volunteer program that we are looking to expand on," Fogg said. "We are hoping to triple the program and our certifications show our competency nursing and text.

"The quality of the staff here for the community is great and they formalize our cultural diversity and accommodate all of our patients, our education programs and for our physicians."

Pugh added, "We have a good team here and we know we have to earn peoples respect again. Someone may have had a bad incident 15 years and don't want to come back here, we are better."

One stigma the WPMC staff also discussed was that of the for-profit versus the non-profit.

"For-profit pays taxes locally," Tirman said. "We support the community, the county and the town, to where non-profit aren't paying taxes especially at the local level.

"We are proud to pay our taxes in local communities and to help pay for community growth such as water parks, hotels and restaurants."

Pugh added, "We are more efficient at less cost and non-profits aren't rising the costs of healthcare either.

"I know 25 percent of it comes from population growth at the national level but we are more efficient, provide high quality of care which is the model of for-profit medical care."

WPMC also say a pain management clinic will be coming in by the end of February 2018 in the former Women's Center building on Ross Boulevard.

Tirmans also said that anyone wishing to tour WPMC are welcome to do so.

"Also if any organization wish to have us come speak to the community on anything healthcare related or the financial world of it we would love to do it.

"This is an exciting time in healthcare with massive changes coming."

Fogg added, "We want to make everything convenient for everyone in Dodge City but also bring the highest quality healthcare in all of southwest Kansas."

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