California hospital seeks lucrative title change

Enloe Medical Center in Chico, Calif., is fighting to be recognized as a Sole Community Hospital to increase its federal funding after a devastating wildfire last year forced a hospital in Paradise, Calif., to close, according to the Enterprise-Record.

Hospitals must meet a few criteria to be designated a Sole Community Hospital by CMS. One requirement is that no more than 25 percent of patients in the hospital's service area go to another nearby hospital for care. CMS recently denied Enloe Medical Center's request to become a Sole Community Hospital because of this requirement, according to the report.

Enloe Medical Center President and CEO Mike Wiltermood told the Enterprise-Record that the hospital has a 95 percent share of the market that includes Paradise, Durham, Gridley, Orland, Chico and Enloe, Calif. However, when Oroville, Calif., is added in, the hospital has less than 75 percent market share.

"If all the people in Oroville went to Sacramento instead, we would ironically qualify," Mr. Wiltermood told the Enterprise-Record. "But because we're pulling out of the Oroville zip codes, 200 out of 20,000 admissions are stopping us from receiving the designation."

Enloe Medical Center leaders applied for Sole Community Hospital status after Adventist Health Feather River in Paradise closed. The hospital shut down after sustaining significant damage in a deadly wildfire last year. Enloe Medical Center absorbed many of the hospital's patients, according to the report.

Due to the Camp Fire's destruction, funds are needed to rehabilitate healthcare infrastructure and ensure local residents have access to care. Receiving Sole Community Hospital status would provide Enloe Medical Center with additional funds it needs to care for patients.

Mr. Wiltermood and his team are appealing CMS' denial. If the hospital is designated a Sole Community Hospital, it would likely receive a roughly 10 percent bump in Medicare reimbursements, Mr. Wiltermood told the Enterprise-Record.

"Even if they give this to us just for three to four years, it would be funding our county could desperately use to rebuild after the fire," Mr. Wiltermood told the Enterprise-Record. "We're hoping this will call attention to our situation and hopefully send some more funding into the county for health services.

Access the full Enterprise-Record article here.

Editor's note: This article was updated July 16 at 12:30 p.m. CT to include why Adventist Health Feather River closed and how the Camp Fire devastated the local community.

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