The Norman Transcript

August 22, 2013

Year of turmoil for Norman health system

By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — The Norman Regional Health System is anticipating $50 million to $70 million in insurance reimbursements for the loss of Moore Medical Center, NRHS CEO David Whitaker told city council members Tuesday.

The total loss of Moore Medical shortly before the fiscal year end was a devastating blow in many ways, but Whitaker and his team are moving forward with recovery and rebuidling efforts. The facility took a direct hit in the May 20 tornado and was a total loss.

The former site of Moore Medical is a clean slate now, with demolition and the removal of the foundation complete. Four insurance policies will come into play, Whitaker said, which will help offset the health system’s losses.

Policies cover the building and property, internal contents, special papers and business interruption.

Electronic health records are intact but some patient records in the building were destroyed, he said.

“Our focus on Moore has been three specific areas,” Whitaker said.

First was to deal with immediate needs including relocation of patients following the tornado. Physicians with Moore offices were relocated and patients connected with their doctors within 48 hours.

Next came intermediate issues of beginning the insurance process as well as demolition and debris removal of the facility.

Soon, a temporary modular facility will open to serve Moore at the former Moore Medical site. The facility will house a hospital emergency room, urgent care and supporting services.

The long-term planning process for rebuilidng is beginning. Whitaker said the new facility won’t have the same footprint, but will be designed with the future needs of Moore in mind. NRHS wants the Moore community to be part of the planning process.

The health system already hosted the first focus group meeting with Moore government and school officials and also have met with Moore Medical staff.

NRHS had 286 employees who had major losses as a result of tornadoes on May 19 and 20. Donations supporting those employees have been tremendous.

“It’s been a very, very different year for NRHS,” Whitaker said.

The health care reform act and market dynamics in Oklahoma had already created challenges, but the health system had done OK financially and operationally during the first 10 and a half months, he said.

Under a plan to increase efficiency, the health system measured $8.1 million in savings last year. The opening of the heart plaza allowed for the consolidation of related services, which made it easier for patients to navigate.

Then, six weeks before the end of the fiscal year, the tornado hit.

The hospital board delayed approving the Fiscal Year 2014 budget because of the massive changes that are required and the revised budget will be approved soon, he said.

The health system has experienced strong staff and recruiting with 30 or 31 new physicians coming into the system. Primary care will be the driver in Affordable Care Act, he said. NRHS is in a good position for the transition.

“We’re the southern gateway into the Oklahoma City market,” Whitaker said.

Joy Hampton