NMC is working through a comprehensive strategic planning process to guide the hospital through the turbulence of healthcare reform over the coming three years so we can continue to provide exceptional care for our community. With all the changes in the healthcare system and all the pressing priorities at hand, it is difficult to pause and focus on the future. Still, it is imperative that we do so, as these are challenging times for community hospitals, and nothing can be taken for granted. One thing we do know: we need to redefine who we are.

Mental Health, Substance Abuse, Obesity, Suicide, Domestic/Sexual Assault, Food Insecurity, and Tobacco/Vaping are pressing priorities in our community and NMC has an action plan for our role in helping the community address each one. NMC’s Board of Directors, Medical Staff leaders, and Leadership Team heard a presentation from planning experts from Quorum Health Resources on the Environmental Assessment they have compiled for our region based on extensive utilization data review, stakeholder interviews, market assessment, patient input, provider supply, demographic studies, trend analysis, etc. They helped us look at our situation locally where NMC is focused, at the state level where Vermont is a leader in the transformation to population health, and at the national level where 11 hospitals closed in the past six months.

There are many opportunities for NMC: becoming even more patient-centered and ‘consumer-friendly’; embracing innovation through telemedicine and other technology; expanding partnerships; and continuing to invest in both the employee experience and population health. As we proceed, we are aware of the threats of the ‘bigger is better’ perception; the cherry-picking by non-traditional competitors; the revenue cap imposed by the State; and the impact of changing reimbursement models.

Various groups within NMC have reviewed and discussed this information over the course of the summer months. We continue to engage our staff and providers and partners in conversations. In September, NMC Board, Medical Staff Leaders, and Leadership Team will come back together with Quorum’s facilitation to craft the plan to move the organization forward with a focus on highly reliable quality care and population health to meet community need while balancing with financial sustainability, and ultimately bring us to a healthier future for all.