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Montrose Regional Health Thrives Amidst Challenges: A Success Story in Rural Medicine

By Jeff Mengenhausen, CEO, Montrose Regional Health

In an era when many rural and community hospitals struggle, Montrose Regional Health stands as a beacon of success. Located in Montrose, CO, in a scenic valley on the state’s west side, we have adopted a unique approach that emphasizes collaboration and innovation.

The Power of Collaboration

One of our secrets of success is a commitment to collaboration over competition. Significant population growth along with recreation and tourism have boosted demand for health services in the region. By considering the health needs of the entire region and collaborating with other hospitals, it’s been possible to share revenue and resources, and grow services across all hospitals.

For example, Montrose Regional Health collaborates with several hospitals including Delta Health, a 40-bed hospital located 20 miles north, Gunnison Valley Health, a critical access hospital serving Gunnison and Crested Butte, Telluride Medical Center serving the resort community, and Southwest Health System, located two-and-a-half hours away in Cortez, CO.

This philosophy has helped us leverage additional resources and expertise, driving growth and innovation. It’s also fostered significant growth for Montrose Regional Health. In 2022, surgery volume increased 32% over the previous year. This growth further accelerated in 2023, with a 54% increase in surgery volume over the previous year. February and March of 2024 saw record-breaking volumes, underscoring the effectiveness of this collaborative approach.

Building Strong Partnerships

Additionally, our partnership with Community Hospital Corporation (CHC) provides innovation and support that helps improve operational and financial performance. CHC’s support includes assistance with data analysis, process improvement, supply chain management, and more. For instance, Montrose is the only hospital on the Western Slope performing lung valve implants, thanks to collaboration with CHC and access to specialized resources.

Overcoming Challenges

Despite our success, the hospital faces challenges. Rapid growth has challenged existing processes in areas like lab and radiology services. The sheer volume of work has required the hospital to reinvent how it operates and scale up from a smaller hospital to a larger one. Leveraging CHC’s resources has been crucial in navigating these challenges, providing the necessary tools and expertise we need to adapt and thrive.

A key aspect of Montrose’s approach is its culture of innovation and positivity. There is an encouragement to say “yes” to new ideas and initiatives rather than clinging to traditional methods. This mindset has fostered a culture of continuous improvement and adaptability, essential traits for any hospital looking to grow and succeed in today’s healthcare landscape.

Advice for Other Rural Hospitals

For other rural hospital executives considering a partnership with CHC, the advice is clear: don’t hesitate. CHC provides the help needed to stabilize and grow a hospital without micromanaging. This timely support has been instrumental in Montrose’s success, enabling the hospital to focus on delivering high-quality care to its community.

Montrose Regional Health’s story is a testament to the power of collaboration, innovation, and a positive mindset. By working together with other hospitals and leveraging the support of CHC, we strive to set an example for other rural and community hospitals across the nation.

CHC provides management services to Montrose Regional Health.

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