July 9, 2014

Commission hears medical updates

By Chris Erickson

Two representatives from the medical community were on hand last week to provide updates to the Mercer County Commission on ongoing processes and projects.
Coal Country Community Health Center/Sakakawea Medical Center CEO Darrold Bertsch spoke first, providing commissioners with an update on Mercer County medical facilities.
“There are four issues affecting health care throughout the state - workforce, housing, daycare and reimbursement,” he said. “Long term care facilities like nursing homes are facing the same challenges. If we find them, where are we going to house them? If they find housing are they going to find daycare? Those are issues here although they are more pronounced elsewhere in the state.”
Bertsch noted that moving forward, health care industry representatives would be advocating the state legislature on these issues, and more.
“In hospitals and clinics, what we’re hoping for is that more people will enroll in Medicaid expansion,” he said. “North Dakota did opt for that, and the last statistics I heard was that 9,500 people in the state enrolled through the expansion that normally might not have been covered. That’s out of about 20-25,000 that could have been eligible.
“At the end of the year the [health care] market place will open up and we hope people will sign up through that if they are eligible,” Bertsch added. “We’d rather have people signed up and have some kind of coverage than coming and seeking health care services at the hospital or clinic without the means to pay for those services. We have to provide care - that’s the law - and if someone doesn’t have the means to pay we have to absorb that as bad debt expense.”


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