ARMC Strikes Patient Transfer Pact With Desert Valley Hospital

A patient transfer agreement between Arrowhead Regional Medical Center and Desert Valley Hospital was approved by the board of supervisors this week and will likely entail few patients transferring from the main campus of the county hospital to the Victorville facility, according to an Arrowhead administrator. On Tuesday, the board of supervisors approved a non-financial reciprocal transfer and referral agreement between Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton and Desert Valley Hospital in Victorville, for the transfer and referral of patients who either exceed the 148-bed capacity of the hospital in the Victor Valley, or require specialized or higher level of care for the period of June 14, 2017, through June 13, 2020.
According to the agreement, “The recommended non-financial reciprocal transfer and referral agreement will allow Arrowhead Regional Medical Center to accept and transfer patients who require a specialized higher level of care to and from Desert Valley Hospital. All patient transfers shall be made in accordance with applicable federal and state laws and regulations, standards of regulatory agencies, and reasonable policies and procedures of each facility. The transfer agreement provides for the safety, health and social service needs of county residents by ensuring cooperation between facilities for the provision of higher level of patient care. State and federal mandates require that when a specialized healthcare facility with the ability to provide a patient with higher level of care is contacted by an admitting hospital that is unable to provide specific care for a patient, the specialized healthcare facility must accept the transfer of the patient, if the receiving facility has the capacity to treat the patient.”
Under the transfer agreement each healthcare facility has responsibility to maintain physician communications, coordinate the patient transfers, and transmit information and patient medical records. Each entity is entitled to pursue payment for services rendered on its own behalf via State Medi-Cal, Federal Medicare, and private insurances. According to Ron Boatman, ARMC Associate Hospital Administrator, at any given time the county has patient transfer agreements with five to seven hospitals in the region.
“In the case of Desert Valley, I don’t see us sending patients to them,” Boatman said. The most likely scenario of the transfers being actuated, Boatman said, would entail the bed capacity at Desert Valley being exceeded or “if a higher level of care need” manifested at the desert hospital, such as when a patient at Desert Valley had “a need for surgical intervention” when a surgical team was not available there. Desert Valley would transfer its patients if the hospital doesn’t have the ability or capacity to provide care. If a higher level of care is needed, we would provide it.”
The goal of the county hospital is to ensure adequate medical care is available to all county residents, Boatman said. In this way, Arrowhead Regional would provide that care if it was not available elsewhere.
Arrowhead would be able to tap into Medi-Care or whatever insurance the patient had access to so as to cover its costs. But, Boatman said, “As you may know, we are a safety-net hospital and deliver high quality care to all who need it. The real premise of patient transfers is not financial. These agreements are not based on a patient’s ability to pay. They are based on medical need. If the facility can meet the need, they offer treatment. If they can’t, they have an arrangement where they can send their patients to another facility.”
Boatman said the terms of the agreement are reciprocal, so under extraordinary circumstances, Arrowhead could send some of its patients to those hospitals with which it has these arrangements. “If there were to be a disaster, it could occur,” he said. “In my tenure here, that has not happened.”
-Mark Gutglueck

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