Having formally celebrated its 35th anniversary in late September, AdCare Hospital in Worcester, Mass., continues to benefit from having a keen sense of its place in the healthcare market after more than three decades of service. Having started as a general hospital in the 1970s and then becoming a specialty facility and adding outpatient care, AdCare presents to its community a clearly defined set of services that position the organization well in an industry increasingly focused on working with third-party payers.
“We have always kept our medical intensity,” says AdCare president David W. Hillis (shown above, with singer Judy Collins). “A doctor sees you every day. We take complicated, chronically ill patients, and going forward we are well-positioned to maintain a cutting-edge piece in the field.”
More than 350 guests, including much of AdCare’s staff, attended the facility’s 35th anniversary celebration on Sept. 30 in Worcester. The event featured inspiring words and songs from recording artist Judy Collins (shown below), along with awards to employees for clinical service and for advocacy.
Hillis describes AdCare’s success as being based on three basic principles: offering the kind of care you’d want your mother to receive, being a careful steward of funds as you would be with your own personal finances, and having fun with your work. “You’ve got to enjoy it,” he says.
Certainly there are challenges. Hillis says the organization’s budget has remained relatively flat over the past three years because it has not been able to take on additional patient volume. AdCare might have to seek additional inpatient beds (it currently operates 114) and outpatient space, and would need authorization from the state to expand bed capacity on its Worcester campus. As a facility that started as a 10-bed alcoholism service in an acute-care hospital formerly known as Doctors Hospital, AdCare always has had a clear inpatient service mission, adding outpatient sites in the mid-1980s. It therefore has been able to steer clear of the murkier “residential” treatment category that does not translate cleanly in the insurance market, Hillis says.
“We’re well-defined,” he says. “We’re a licensed hospital, so we have 24-hour nursing staff.”
Treatment facilities that rely solely on cash business can be whatever they want to be, Hillis says, but those that want to flourish under health reform will have to examine how they are defining their services for insurers. “If you want to be in the mainstream of healthcare, you’re going to have to look at how to change the description of your services and move forward,” he says, and that won’t be a comfortable transition for some.
AdCare is one of several prominent member organizations in the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP) that have reached similar milestone anniversaries in recent years. While Hillis says local marketplace circumstances make the challenges each facility faces a bit different, he sees the group of nationally known centers as strong and responding proactively to new expectations brought on by parity and health reform.