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The Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center (HRRMC) Board of Directors got an update on service progress with the Solvista Health Regional Assessment Center (RAC) on the HRRMC campus and also welcomed new board members Tuesday.

Solvista CEO Brian Turner

Brian Turner, Solvista CEO, addressed the expansion of services at the RAC; approaches to secure transportation for those dealing with behavioral health crises, and the response to such behavioral crises at Critical Access Hospitals.

Turner announced that the RAC now provides full-time withdrawal (detox) management and crisis stabilization beds. It is the only facility in the region to do so.

After an original delay in opening six beds dedicated to acute psychiatric care, the facility is now fully staffed and will begin accepting admissions for those services shortly, added Turner.

Turner advised the HRRMC Board of the quickening pace of services since the facility opened last year. A total of 171 patients were serviced in mental health and substance use crisis, with admissions from nine different counties and four different states. Referrals included self-referral, friends/family, medical hospitals, EMS referrals, law enforcement and co-responder programs, probation, schools, acute care psychiatric hospitals and employers.

More than 20 direct referrals and admissions came from HRRMC.

Turner noted the passage of recent legislation directing the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF) to establish a Medicaid benefit for behavioral health secure transportation. He announced that Solvista will begin coordinating that service as of July 1.

In the past, the need for such secure transport has been hamstrung by funding limitations and agency disagreements over who should shoulder responsibility [and liability] for such secure transport.

With the rule-making complete, Turner told the board those providing such psychiatric transport must be enrolled as a behavioral health secure transportation system, and be enrolled with the state health care policy and financing agency. They must be licensed in good standing with the organization and comply with state standards for secure transport established by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

All counties are responsible for the licensing process to ensure adherence to the standards. Turner said Solvista intends to provide limited BHST involved with getting patients to and from the Regional Assessment Center. It remains unclear what other regional transportation providers’ plans will be.

In addition, Turner said Colorado intends to prohibit crisis health providers such as Solvista from responding to facilities to provide crisis evaluation and coordination of services.

He pointed out that in fiscal year 2024/25, it’s expected that state hospitals will be required to provide behavioral health crisis assessments and care coordination to get affected patients to the correct level of care.

Solvista, he said, helped to negotiate a one-year grace period for such critical care hospitals so that Solvista and others can provide those services without additional cost to hospitals in the region, including HRRMC, St. Vincent in Leadville and St. Thomas More in Cañon City.

“It will be important that the two organizations work through any care issues or workflows during the time to ensure we are adequately prepared to meet patient needs once the state fully implements this restriction,” he stated.

HRRMC Board Leadership Change

Dean Edwards, HRRMC Board Chairman. Dan Smith photo

A passing of the hospital district leadership torch with the designation of two new board members was an important second order of business for the board Tuesday.

Board chair Jeff Post and board member Stacy Dunn reached the limit of their board terms, and their positions will be filled by former HRRMC Chief of Staff Dr. Daniel Wardrop. M.D. and Stacy Osborne, CEO of Beneficent, a Medicaid consulting firm based in Colorado Springs. Each will serve a four-year term until May of 2027.

Dean Edwards, former vice chairman, was elected board chair and Wardrop was elected as vice chair. Osborne was elected to serve as secretary-treasurer.

The board was allowed to cancel the scheduled May 2 district-wide election because more than two months before the election, there were no more declared candidates for the two open board positions.

Because of their experience, both Dunn and Post were asked to continue on as ex-officio members. New committee assignments were also agreed upon for current board members.

In other action, HRRMC CEO Bob Morasko apprised the board on upcoming physical plant moves within the district tied to the assumption of First Street Family Practice under the HRRMC umbrella.

Morasko said details on how different billing systems will be coordinated and what physical building expansion and construction will be necessary are still in the planning stages.

The board also approved capital equipment purchases, including an Ortho 3.5 headless screw set and an MTP fusion set, as well as an Epiphany PACS system for phase one of the cardiopulmonary project.