Oswego Health, ConnextCare on front lines of pandemic battle
By Steve Yablonski
In 2022, Oswego Health continues to see substantial growth. It’s working on several expansion and development projects, at the same time helping the community to withstand the onslaught of COVID-19 and its variations.
“The mission of Oswego Health is to provide accessible, quality care and improve the health of residents in our community. Our 1,200+ employees live and breathe this mission every day and this pandemic has proved our commitment to this community,” said Michael Harlovic, Oswego Health president and CEO.
“The entire healthcare industry is challenged right now managing the COVID-19 pandemic and its resulting impacts,” said physician Duane Tull, chief medical officer and president of Physician Care. “From controlling the cost of care and working with payers to ensure hospitals and health systems are justly paid for the critical care they provide; to recruitment and retention of labor and the rising costs associated; to determining how to safely reopen services.”
Despite the challenges Oswego Health faces during the pandemic, officials say they will keep working to improve and keep the public safe.
“2022 will be a year focused on growth and reinvestment for our healthcare system,” Harlovic said. “We look forward to reopening elective surgeries that were curtailed during the latest pandemic surge; collaborating with our community providers and recruiting additional primary care physicians to improve access to managed care; and continued expansion and renovations to our facilities. However, the main strategic priority will be investing in our staff. Retention is just as important as recruitment and though our human resource team is aggressively recruiting additional workforce, our focus right now is on our current staff and making sure they are engaged and feel appreciated.”
Oswego Health is continuing to look at expanding primary care services throughout Oswego County. And, will add a 3D mammography unit to its Pulaski and Central Square sites.
“By regularly seeing a primary care provider, you can identify and control health risk factors before they become problems,” said Michael Backus, executive vice president and COO. “Currently, Oswego County has an unmanageable ratio of 2,600 patients per primary care doctor, one of the worst ratios in the country. Oswego Health recognizes the need and is committed to making significant investments in primary care recruitment and expansion.”
“I have to say that though the industry continues to be faced with challenges, I am beyond proud of our team at Oswego Health,” Tull said.
“This community will continue to be our greatest priority.”
“We are actively working with community providers, including ConnextCare, on ways to improve access to primary care,” Backus added.
It’s been trying times, Tricia Peter-Clark, president and CEO of ConnextCare, agreed.
From challenges with reimbursement for services provided as well as the delay in receipt and rising costs of essential supplies are still making things tough on health care providers, she noted.
“We’re faced with unprecedented workforce recruitment and managing provider and staff burnout,” Peter-Clark said. “And, retention struggles will continue.”
Patients are pushing for more home-based services through the use of technology.
The transition from fee-for-service reimbursement to more value-based payment arrangements with the insurance plans is also an issue.
Patients are coming in to the office sicker than in the past due to personal choice to delay receiving care, she added.
“Despite what seems like a very bleak outlook on health care in 2022, I will share that personally the pandemic has forced us to be more innovative in the way we offer primary care services and institute changes faster to keep up with the changing landscape,” she said.