Rural hospitals argue their case against a federal medical regulationValley City, ND (WDAY TV) - Congressman Earl Pomeroy is fighting a federal medical regulation he says will cut down on patient care. Pomeroy brought the National Deputy Administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid to Mercy Hospital in Valley City today. He's showing him how hard it is for "rural" hospitals to meet the regulation.
It requires doctors to be present for certain out patient procedures or the patient won't get reimbursed. Pomeroy says these are all procedures nurses are trained to do.
"It's urban versus rural medicine. We've got to achieve the same things urban systems do, but with fewer people stretched out over broad swaths of countryside."
BLUM: "I've been impressed with how different health care has been across the country and that small, rural hospitals have unique challenges. So I'm here to learn and see and to see first hand and to talk to doctors, to talk to nurses.”
Doctors and nurses in rural hospitals, like Mercy, say the regulation doesn't help patient care, instead it takes doctors away from their patients.
13-year doctor Fredrick Mitzel was front and center, pleading his case to the man with immense power in changing this proposed regulation.
FREDRICK MITZEL/FAMILY PRACTICE DOCTOR: "If a doctor had to be present 24-hours a day, you'd probably have to hire to staff if appropriately. One, the budget isn't there and two, the doctors just aren't there to do that."
With only two doctors on call daily here at Mercy Hospital, resources are stretched thin. Medical staff say that the biggest issue is the availability of doctors. They would have to leave their patients at their clinic to come be bed side here."
MITZEL: "So if you're seeing me, and I gotta walk out while they're doing this then you may be a little upset if I have to leave."
Plus, the patients it's referring to, out-patients are relatively stable. Meaning the procedures are those that nurses are trained to routinely handle, but if there is an emergency?
WOMAN: "One of our clinics is attached, so that's one minute and they're right here. So if something would happen in that room, an out-patient, and we do the life saving, we call them and they're here in a minute or two."
National Medicare officials are taking suggestions about the regulation until the end of this month. They have until November first to change the regulation.