The healthcare field is certainly changing and if Western Maryland Health System isn’t keeping up with the changes, we could end up like one of the 89 hospitals that closed in 2017 with the majority being in rural areas. It has become apparent that because of our remoteness and economic development challenges, it is more difficult to bring physicians, primarily specialists and sub-specialists to our area. As a result, we have signed a clinical affiliation agreement with University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. They will assist us with such clinical needs as Vascular Surgery, Thoracic Surgery and coverage for Dr. Mark Nelson and the Cardiac Services program, as well as Oncology and Behavioral Health. We will continue to explore other ways in which UPMC can assist with the many challenges we face every day. Fortunately, we do have a lot still going for us. We benefit greatly from the Maryland Waiver which brings an additional $2.6 billion to the state provided we continue to meet a series of benchmarks related to improved quality, reduced utilization and cost savings. We transitioned healthcare delivery in Maryland eight years ago from a system based on volume to one that is value based. That transition brought us a great deal of advantage as it allowed us to demonstrate our commitment of placing the patient first in the care delivery system. We’ve been able to achieve remarkable partnerships across the care continuum to ensure patients receive the care they need where they need it. These partnerships have helped reduce the gaps in care and have better addressed the needs of the most vulnerable. We are much further ahead of other hospitals, in other states, with our care delivery model and our efforts in reducing the cost of care. We now care for patients in the most appropriate location including throughout the community and within the home.
As we attempt to work through the many changes, challenges and disruptions facing our industry, our goal at WMHS is to not only sustain healthcare services in western Maryland, but to enhance those services. Building upon the newly created relationship with UPMC could take us to long term viability through cutting edge technology, innovative programs and services as well as access to the many other clinical programs offered by one of the largest health systems in the United States. Most importantly, UPMC wants to offer those services in our community to the extent possible and not have the patient travel to Pittsburgh or Altoona unless it is absolutely necessary. This relationship with UPMC is an excellent next step for WMHS as we not only attempt to improve our viability but, with all of the difficulties that we face, our long-term survivability.