White Mountain Communities Special Health Care District
928-337-2014 * P.O. Box 2955 * 625 North 13th West * St. Johns, AZ 85936
The Special Health Care District’s Board of Directors recognizes that three vital components of the health care system in southern Apache County are:
1.Emergency Medical Services, which are provided locally by White Mountain Ambulance Service and St. Johns Emergency Medical Services.
2.Acute Care Services are provided by the local hospital, White Mountain Regional Medical Center, and include Emergency Room services, In-patient services, and Out-patient services. Diagnostic imaging, laboratory services, physical therapy and rehabilitation services are also available at the hospital.
3.Primary Care Services are obtainable at any of several clinics in southern Apache County. The clinics provide treatment for common illnesses, and often focus on the prevention of disease and the maintenance of wellness.
The Special Health Care District enters into contracts with various providers of the services listed above. State statutes mandate that the District can only contract with non-profit corporations and municipalities.The contracts specify the type of service that will be provided to the community. In return, the District issues funds, in arrears, for the provision of these services. For example, in Fiscal Year 2013-2014, the Special Health Care District contracted with White Mountain Regional Medical Center (located in Springerville, AZ) for the continuous provision of Emergency Room Services. The contract requires that the Emergency Room be open every day, 24/7, and that it be adequately staffed. In return for this vital service, the District agreed to provide $500,000, over the course of the year, for use by the hospital in paying Emergency Room Department expenses. The amount provided by the District represents only about 20% of the total annual Emergency Room Department’s expenses. District funds are issued quarterly, at the end of each quarter, thus helping to pay for the Emergency Room services after a quarter’s services have already been provided.
Since its inception in 1995, the Special Health Care District has disbursed funds in these approximate amounts (projected through the end of 2013):
1.Emergency Medical Services: approximately $2,207,332. Typically, St. Johns Emergency Medical Services has used its funding to help purchase new ambulances, extrication turn-outs (“the jaws of life”), to remodel its EMS facility, to purchase defibrillators and “Auto-Pulses”, and to offset staffing expenses. Typically, White Mountain Ambulance Service (based in Eagar, AZ) has used the bulk of its funding to offset the cost of maintaining its staff. Four full-time paramedics are currently employed there. Not until White Mountain Ambulance Service began receiving Special Health Care District funding were all crews capable of providing Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS). Now, with this funding, community members have the peace of mind that comes from knowing that ACLS-level service is available 24 hours a day.
2.Acute Care Services: approximately $5,627,127. These funds have been used by White Mountain Regional Medical Center to help renovate the Med/Surg wing of the hospital, to purchase and/or lease equipment for the Emergency Room and Operating Room, to purchase and/or lease diagnostic imaging equipment, and to help offset the expenses of Emergency Room operations. Additionally, an emergency provision of approximately $280,000 in funding was made in 2011 to help the hospital meet payroll expenses in the wake of the Wallow Fire.
3.Primary Care Services: approximately $2,109,717. This figure includes a $500,000 grant from Arizona Department of Health Services, which was applied to the cost of creating a new clinic in St. Johns in 1999. Over the ensuing years, the Special Health Care District has entered into various agreements with North Country Health Care, Inc. (formerly North Country Community Health Center) for the provision of primary care services at two locations (Round Valley and St. Johns) in southern Apache County. As a federally-funded Community Health Center, North Country Health Care is obliged to treat all patients, regardless of their ability to pay for services. To this end, a sliding-fee scale exists, aimed at making patient’s bill proportionate to their income. Also, North Country cannot limit, or “put a cap on”, the number of AHCCCS or Medicare patients; again, all patients are welcome.
In summary, Special Health Care District Funds are used to ensure that EMS (ambulance) services, Primary Care (clinic) services and Acute Care (hospital/emergency room) services are available and of high quality.
Did you know that one new ambulance costs in the range of $150, 000 to $180,000? Now, imagine the number of miles that are racked up on an ambulance in a year. . .