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Q: Why is Barton expanding?
Barton Memorial Hospital in South Lake Tahoe will no longer meet California’s seismic safety regulations taking effect by 2030. The expansion will allow for updates to aging infrastructure while providing state-of-the-art technology and facilities at each campus location to meet the future of healthcare in our community.

Q: Why Nevada?
After nearly a year of analysis, consideration and input, Barton’s board of directors voted on November 17 to develop in-depth plans for building a new hospital in Nevada, which, when completed, will replace the current acute care (hospital) facility in South Lake Tahoe. 

The advantages of constructing a new hospital in Nevada include less patient disruption and operational downtime, quicker completion, significantly lower costs, and allows for additional future expansion.

Outpatient services including primary care and specialty care will be available on both the South Lake Tahoe and Stateline campuses to best meet the needs of the community.

Q: Is Barton completely leaving South Lake Tahoe?
As the primary community health partner in Lake Tahoe, Barton intends to maintain a presence within South Lake Tahoe. The facilities master plan is in development and will include primary care and specialty care on both campuses. Additionally, the Barton Community Health Center will expand services on the California campus to best serve patients who are insured through Medi-Cal. 

Q: How will this affect patients?
Changes to Barton’s campuses will take years to complete. In the short term, patients will have access to the same services currently offered. Any transitions, such as office relocations, will be planned with an emphasis on minimizing patient impact. In the long term, patients will experience enhanced care and additional services in state-of-the-art locations with the latest technology and procedures. 

Q: What does this mean for insurance coverage, and specifically patients with Medi-Cal?
We are closely examining the most common insurance carriers in our region. We will maintain the rural health clinic designation in the Barton Community Health Center, and Medi-Cal patients will continue to utilize this clinic for outpatient services. Medi-Cal will cover most in-patient hospital services utilized in Nevada. Many private insurance companies will cover services in both California and Nevada; we have begun discussion with the large carriers to renegotiate contracts to support this change. While we are still researching, we anticipate the location of hospital services will not impact most coverage or services provided.

Q: Will this affect patient safety?
The safety of our patients has been, and will always be, our top priority. Staffing plans are not based solely on meeting state mandated ratios, but also to flex based on a variety of clinical factors, including patient acuity (care intensity), hospital census (volume), and support staff on site. Barton always considers all of these factors when developing staffing plans, now and in the future.

Barton emphasizes patient safety and staffing to care for patients regardless of where they receive care. Accolades such as consecutive LeapFrog A Grades for patient safety, Newsweek's World’s Best Hospital for quality, and an overall 5-star Rating from CMS, illustrate our commitment to safety and quality. A new state-of-the-art facility will provide additional opportunities for enhanced quality of care through updated technology, facilities, and operational workflows.

Q: Will this affect the Level III Trauma certification?
The American College of Surgeons is a national body which certifies Trauma programs. Our Level III Trauma Center is a keystone program, elevating care throughout Barton Memorial Hospital, and remains an integral part of our health system. We will continue to engage ACS and the State of Nevada whenever needed.

Q: How will this affect staff?
Barton will always have patients and therefore will always need clinicians and support staff to care for them. Based on program, service, and building location, some staff will work in a different location than they do today. Staffing will be allocated to meet the needs of the growing services throughout the South Lake Tahoe and Stateline campuses. Some may experience longer commute times while others will find their commute to be shorter. Additional services will create new job opportunities and a greater workforce. 

Q: What are the regulatory differences between California and Nevada?
Building in Nevada will not compromise the quality and safety standards for building. The standards and requirements for building a safe hospital are federally mandated, and we will follow those guidelines. California has long and costly waiting lists for permitting and inspection processes that quickly add time and cost to building projects. Nevada has more streamlined processes and the agencies are less impacted, so the process is more efficient. 

Q: How will Barton afford this expansion project?
Compared to other California rural health systems, Barton is fortunate to carry little debt and to fund annual capital projects from the operating budget. Many organizations are not in the same position. As we plan for the future, and understand the regulations to meet California 2030 seismic codes, the operating budget cannot shoulder this large of an expense.

Knowing we have to now build a new hospital, Barton will have to fund the expansion through current investments and loans. Barton is assessing all funding opportunities to include current asset holdings, debt financing and philanthropy to properly fund the project while maintaining acceptable debt and financial ratios.