Carson Tahoe Health forms alliances to enhance care
Carson Tahoe Health (CTH), based in Carson City, has served northern Nevada and Eastern California since 1949. With two hospitals, three urgent cares and several outpatient facilities, the health network provides a complete continuum of care from wellness, diagnostics, treatment, surgery, long-term acute care, after-care and support.
The health network views the advent of health care reform as making one thing clear: Growing to meet the needs of an increasing population demands partnerships and collaboration. CTH’s reach and the area’s population have grown exponentially over its lifetime, and the Affordable Care Act has brought access to health care to more people.
Carson Tahoe Health’s mission is “to enhance the health and well-being of the communities we serve,” said Diane Rush, director of marketing and public information. CTH serves a primary service area that includes Carson City, Douglas and Lyon counties, as well as the outlying rural areas within a 60-mile radius. They have always focused on the overall health of their community and have been performing Community Health Needs Assessments periodically for the past 17 years. This survey helps the health care network in continuing to meet the demand for health services. The Affordable Care Act now requires health networks to perform this survey every three years.
Carson Tahoe Health’s size and independence continue to offer advantages in adaptability and delivery of higher level services, such as care for heart attacks, open heart surgery, vascular surgeries and cancer diagnosis and treatment. Since it is independently owned, the health network can make quick decisions and respond to issues promptly, according to Rush.
“As a smaller health system, Carson Tahoe Health can identify and address potential setbacks, such as shifts in payer sources or make necessary adjustments to provide value-based medicine,” she said.
By joining forces with other community stakeholders, Carson Tahoe is poised to continue providing leading-edge care in the future. Some of these stakeholders include Carson City Health and Human Services, tri-county fire and sheriff departments and the Sierra Blood and Cancer Consortium. This strengthening of community alliances and the pooling of resources enhance the prospect of a stronger and healthier population.
Carson Tahoe Cancer Center’s recent affiliation with Salt Lake City’s acclaimed Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) and University of Utah Health Care is one example of a healthcare alliance that embraces the needs of local cancer patients. By combining resources, Carson Tahoe Health is able to offer easy access to expanded and specialized cancer treatment while providing a safety net for the communities served.
“We form community relationships through a forward-thinking evaluation process that looks at what community members need from us and then identifying ways we can enhance our services accordingly,” said Ed Epperson, CEO and president of Carson Tahoe Health. “Our affiliation with Huntsman Cancer Institute and the University of Utah Health Care not only positions our organizations for success in today’s rapidly evolving healthcare environment, but it provides our region with the best possible access to complete cancer care.”
In addition to upholding advanced standards and protocols, Carson Tahoe Health and University of Utah Health Care share a deep-rooted commitment to cultivating the patient experience through compassionate, personalized care. In keeping with this commitment, this new multidisciplinary team approach provides patients with coordinated and comprehensive treatment plans appropriate to the individual cancer diagnosis. Patients are able to obtain virtual, personal “second opinions” through digital teleconferencing technologies and access advanced clinical trials when eligible. If a patient is referred to HCI for a higher level of care, he or she is assigned a personal nurse navigator to help the patient throughout the treatment process.
A major impact of a cancer diagnosis is the financial hardship that often forces patients to choose their treatment based on their financial means. This new collaboration with HCI takes into account the patient’s insurance and financial situation when a referral is made so that the patient can concentrate on healing. Adella’s story is an example of this symbiotic referral process:
Adella’s cancer required a higher level of treatment and because of her financial situation she did not think that it would be possible for her to choose the best treatment option. With simple access to HCI and the assistance of Carson Tahoe’s Cancer Resource Center, Adella was one of the first northern Nevada cancer patients to experience the benefits of this collaboration.
“I was encouraged to go to the Huntsman Cancer Institute for my advanced cancer surgery. Because of the collaboration and with help from the Carson Tahoe Health Foundation, I was able to travel to Utah and receive this necessary surgery,” Adella said. “From the bottom of my heart, I wish to thank everyone at the Carson Tahoe Cancer Center and Huntsman Cancer Institute for helping me during this stressful time and difficult diagnosis.”
Because of people like Adella, Carson Tahoe continues to be an area leader for advanced and innovative care. Carson Tahoe and HCI emphasize that this affiliation does not change ownership, local control and governance or restrict patient choice in providers. The affiliation with HCI is just one way that Carson Tahoe is strengthening the patient care experience.
Heather Ashbridge, who started with Nevada State Development Corporation in 2008, previously served in several roles with the organization, including assistant vice president and loan officer. She is based in NSDC’s Reno office.