Trinity Health in Minot has seen its emergency department caseload double in six years, to 40,000 visits a year.
“Our volume is increasing exponentially,” said Dr. Jeffrey Sather, director of Trinity’s emergency department. “We see a pretty heavy shift to trauma.” Trauma cases run the gamut: burns, falls, chemical inhalations, and injuries caused by crushing, explosions and traffic accidents. It’s not uncommon for Trinity’s helicopter air ambulance to make three or four runs a day, Sather said.
At the Mountrail County Health Center in Stanley, the influx of new people to the area also has meant an increase in bad debts, said Lowell Herfindahl, interim chief executive.
“We’re trying to collect money when the patient is here,” he said. “We don’t refuse service to anybody, but we’re going to be more aggressive about collecting money up front.” he increase in uncollectible medical bills is common in the Oil Patch and could threaten some small hospitals already caught in a squeeze between reimbursements and costs, said Jerry Jurena, executive director of the North Dakota Hospital Association.
Interesting. A classic case of spillover costs. Any attempts to make the oil companies pay for some of the costs they are imposing on the hospitals will of course be met with kicking and screaming.