Blue Mountain Strengthens Community Partnerships Amidst the Pandemic

Blue Mountain Hospital (BMH) is an 11-bed not-for-profit, Critical Access Hospital (CAH) providing acute care, obstetrics, swing bed, emergency medicine, surgery, dialysis, and related outpatient ancillary services to the residents of Blanding, Utah and surrounding communities.

Stroudwater consultants, Matt Mendez and Lindsay Corcoran, worked with BMH in 2018-2019 through the Small Rural Hospital Transition (SRHT) project on a Financial Operational Assessment (FOA) project. RHI staff spoke with BMH leadership Jeremy Lyman, CEO; Kent Turek, CFO; Trent Herring, COO on two follow-up interviews. All three provided great insights to the work BMH has been striving towards since completing their SRHT project.

When RHI staff initially spoke with BMH in late February, or pre-pandemic, BMH leadership shared highlights on significant progress towards their action items. The second interview with RHI staff, took place in early August, post-pandemic, therefore creating a significant shift in the progress in the six months that passed.

Q: What did you find to be successful regarding your project implementation?

Leadership re-committed to growing BMH’s swing bed program while increasing our swing bed average daily census; this meant that we had to take a step back and evaluate each patient individually to determine if keeping them as a swing bed patient or discharging them would be a more appropriate option. Through this shift, BMH began to grow and foster relationships with other facilities ultimately aiding in the growth of their swing bed program through referrals.  

Unfortunately, after the COVID pandemic hit nationally, BMH was no longer able to accept swing bed patients due to COVID. BMH leadership recognizes the strides they were making towards this goal and acknowledge that this work is on pause during the national pandemic but will resume when possible.

Additionally, BMH has been exploring strategic alignment opportunities, specifically leveraging affiliations with the University of Utah, creating opportunities to collaborate. They continue to build relationships with the Utah Navajo Health System (UNHS), and the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, with the goal to expand services to their tribal members. Through the pandemic, BMH acknowledged the importance of providing services to the surrounding tribal communities; fostering relationships with the Native American tribal council and continuing to seek ways BMH can support their tribe has maintained a priority throughout the months.

Blue Mountain Hospital strives to be viewed as employer of choice. While motivated to achieve this goal, BMH created a committee including frontline staff and department heads and administration team members. The goal of the committee is to create opportunities to increase and promote relationship building within their staff. A 12-month calendar of events was created and includes events ranging from celebrating work anniversaries to family-friendly events. Amidst the pandemic, recognitions programs have been implemented as well to celebrate the front-line workers at BMH.  

Q: What are the outcomes from this project?

Building and maintaining key relationships with further organizations and rallying together as a community during COVID has been astonishing!

Though many of these projects have been on our radar, this is project has allowed us to structure ourselves with timelines to move forward with our identified action items, ultimately allowing our community to receive care within Blanding. It’s been remarkable to witness our confidence improve while we prepare as a CAH to value-based care.