Health Forward Announces $7.5 Million Grant to TMC to Increase Bed Capacity

KANSAS CITY, MO –The Health Forward Foundation (Health Forward) has announced its single largest grant ever to Truman Medical Centers (TMC) to increase inpatient and mental health bed capacity in Kansas City.

The three-year $7.5 million grant, including a $3 million matching grant if TMC raises $3 million over the three-year period, will provide significantly improved inpatient care to seriously ill patients who need closer monitoring, while reducing congestion in the emergency department. The grant will allow the TMC Hospital Hill campus to:

Add 10 single occupancy in-patient care rooms
Convert 10 intermediate care telemetry beds to full ICU beds
Allow for 32 regular beds to be converted to monitored beds
Expand inpatient psychiatric services
Replace 104 medical/surgical beds to improve patient care and patient satisfaction
“TMC and Health Forward enjoy an ongoing partnership and shared mission to help the vulnerable underinsured patient population in Kansas City,” said Mary Lou Jaramillo, Chair of the Health Forward Board of Directors.

Since 2003, TMC has seen a dramatic shift in its ability to provide quality healthcare to patients in the urban core as a result of marketplace changes in urban hospital availability and changes in regulatory and reimbursement laws.

“This continued support will allow TMC to provide better and more timely care to our patients. Health Forward’s financial support to increase inpatient beds and monitoring capability makes us more able to treat very ill patients,” said John Bluford, TMC President/CEO.

According to Bluford, uncompensated care at TMC has grown 45 percent since 2003 from $54.6 million in 2003 to $79.2 million in 2007. Each week, TMC provides $1.5 million in uncompensated care, about 400 percent more than the average of other KC area hospitals. After subtracting the tax subsidies that TMC receives, uncompensated care is 15.9 percent of its net revenue, compared to 3.6 percent average at other area hospitals.

“For the past five years, TMC has shouldered a huge share of providing needed services for the uninsured and underserved,” said Steve Roling, Health Forward President/CEO. “TMC has continued to provide quality care, regardless of the ability to pay, but it has placed the hospital in an unsustainable situation. One-time funding such as this is necessary for TMC to continue to provide services to those who rely on TMC as their primary source of healthcare.”

The Health Forward grant will provide faster access to inpatient care, increasing admissions by 1,043 per year (3,650 additional patient days). It also will provide closer monitoring for severely ill patients, faster access to inpatient beds and immediate care for the severely mentally ill. In addition, the grant will relieve emergency department congestion, resulting in reduced waiting times, diversion rates and improved patient satisfaction.

“Healthcare disparities exist among urban, poor and diverse populations and as a result, urban safety net hospitals are providing care to patients who do not receive adequate preventative care and wait longer before seeking care. At TMC, 88 percent of all adult patients who require inpatient care come through our emergency deparment (ED),” said TMC Chief Medical Officer Mark Steele, M.D. “Emergency Department congestion is a serious, ongoing issue that results in limited accessibility, lower levels of patient satisfaction, comfort and appropriate care. Health Forward funding will allow TMC to process patients in need of inpatient care faster, resulting in the ED being able to see significantly more patients per day.”

Another issue causing congestion in the emergency department is the increase in the number of patients needing and waiting for inpatient adult psychiatric beds. Since 2003 there has been a 57 percent reduction in the supply of non-profit mental health beds. “The reduction of inpatient adult pysch beds has resulted in the need to provide behavioral health services in the ED and has increased ED diversion. This grant will allow us to expand inpatient services for this special population,” said TMC Behavioral Health Chief Operating Officer Marsha Morgan.

Health Forward was established in 2003 through the profits from the sale of Health Midwest to HCA. In accordance with the asset purchase agreement, Health Forward acknowledges the cooperation of HCA, who provided a waiver for this grant to TMC.

“TMC has a long and proud tradition of providing healthcare to everyone who enters their doors,” said Roling. “The patients who will be served by this grant will be those with higher levels of medical needs – patients with low incomes, the elderly and patients without insurance or without adequate insurance to pay for care. As a result of this grant, TMC will be able to provide even more quality care to the sickest patients in our community.”