WILLCOX — A problem with getting paid by insurance companies has been corrected, and the hospital’s financial condition is improving.

Roland Knox

Northern Cochise Community Hospital CEO Roland Knox gave a positive report on the financial health of the hospital during a community forum last Thursday.

That was the message delivered by Northern Cochise Community Hospital CEO Roland Knox during a community forum at Valley Telecom’s community meeting room last Thursday.

“We reviewed the insurance denials and found we weren’t fighting hard enough. And we found every other hospital was going through the same thing,” Knox said.

Knox said the hospital put in new staff, including hiring a new case manager, as well as adjusted duties of some existing personnel, and “we haven’t had a denial in 90 days.”

“The state of the hospital is not dire,” he continued. “We have about 16 days’ cash on hand, which is a lot more than the three days we used to be at. And I do believe the cash on hand will increase because the busy season is coming up. We think we’ll have a good winter . . . well, good for us, perhaps not as good for you.”

Those in attendance were nearly unanimous in praising the hospital for the number of outpatient services it offers, and equally critical about the hospital’s lack of communication with the public about those services.

“You’re right; there is a constant need to educate the public on the services that are available,” Knox said. “We’re here to help you when you’re sick, but we’re also here to help you stay well.”

Knox said the hospital plans to remain independent and, to do so, entered into an agreement with Tucson Medical Center and four other rural hospitals to form the Southern Arizona Hospital Alliance.

“The relationship with TMC helped us stay independent, but if we can’t be independent, we want to partner with someone we trust,” Knox said.

Finally, Knox talked about two upcoming remodeling projects — the nurse’s station and the pharmacy —using funds from TMC as part of the Southern Arizona Hospital Alliance.

Ainslee Wittig, the hospital’s community relations director, also announced a number of upcoming hospital events and activities, including:

• A flu shot clinic Oct. 27, from 8 a.m. to noon, in the hospital’s lobby. Cost is $20.

• An advanced directives educational forum, by the SEAGO Area Agency on Aging, will take place Nov. 9, from 1-3 p.m., at the hospital

• The NCCH Auxiliary Christmas Preview and Bake Sale will take place Nov. 9 at the Senior Center.

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