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Excellence in Governance for Small Providers: Melissa Fraser of West Park Hospital

Melissa FraserCody, WY February 16, 2015 - West Park Hospital is excited to announce Melissa Fraser, RN - West Park Hospital District Board of Trustees, Chair, has been awarded the National Excellence in Governance Award by Modern Healthcare.

Modern Healthcare is ranked No. 1 in readership among healthcare executives and deemed a "must-read publication" by the who's who in healthcare.

In 2004, Melissa Fraser was elected to Cody, Wyoming’s West Park Hospital Board of Trustees. As a nurse and business office manager at a medical practice, Melissa’s medical and business acumen has been the perfect expertise necessary to lead our 25-bed Critical Access Hospital in the ever-changing healthcare industry.

Located at the gateway of Yellowstone National Park, our hospital is somewhat unique, referred to as a “Critical Access Hospital on Steroids.” Our medical staff of 52 physicians (up from 40 in 2004), includes 5 orthopedic surgeons, 2 general surgeons and a neurosurgeon.

In addition to our acute care beds, we have a 93-bed long term care center, 20-bed chemical dependency unit, and an 8-bed stand-alone hospice house.

Through Melissa’s leadership, the hospital has proactively partnered with physicians to increase local access to care. We have negotiated with Billings Clinic to help provide hospitalists and St Vincent's Hospital physicians to provide cancer care.

Melissa led the process to jointly apply for a $5.4 million grant with St. Vincent Healthcare to purchase new equipment and remodeling of the cancer unit. Local access to cancer services now generates over $1 million in revenue to the hospital each year.

She was also instrumental in the continuation of our dialysis unit we had initially partnered with both Billings hospitals to provide outpatient dialysis, and now we partner with DCI to continue meeting the needs of our community and travelers visiting Yellowstone National Park.

Finally, Melissa led development of the hospital’s partnership with 3 orthopedic surgeons and St. Vincent Healthcare to build a Medical Arts Complex, and for the hospital to become a 40% owner of the Surgical Center (with 17 local physicians). The ASC has generated $7.6M ROI over the last 10 years for the $400,000 initial investment.

Cody is a small but mighty town with a population of 10,000, and the surrounding Big Horn Basin totals around 50,000. West Park Hospital is the largest employer in Park County, taking pride in our strong social responsibility as well as our significant financial impact on Cody and surrounding towns.

Melissa has focused the board’s attention on the overall health needs of the community, and recent concern over Wyoming’s elevated suicide rate has resulted in a West Park Hospital outreach program to provide training to all the communities within the Big Horn Basin to raise awareness and support for Suicide Prevention.

From supporting our local American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life to the physician-delivered Community Health Series lunch programs, the hospital has also created and expanded many partnerships throughout the community to improve health and wellness.

Fundraising for the Hospice program began in 2008, with over $3,000,000 raised through community donations and grants. An active hospital foundation assisted with the Hospice House Campaign and raised $1,000,000 in 2014 from donations, grants and pledges for various hospital projects.

In 2008, a new county library was built and, with support from the hospital board, the hospital funded the West Park Hospital Planetree Resource Center within the Library.

The hospital continues its support with up-to-date medical reference books, computer equipment and blood pressure screenings.

Melissa’s strong community ties and networking have repeatedly benefited the hospital.

When parking became a challenge, she was instrumental in negotiating a favorable multi-year lease with our neighbor, the Buffalo Bill Center of the West.

Based on our projects and partnerships, Melissa was asked in 2011 to speak at two Rural Healthcare Conferences to discuss how our hospital has been able not only to survive but thrive in an unstable healthcare environment. Melissa explained that our board has been guided by its strategic plan and took advantage of opportunities over the years.

Over the last ten years, Melissa has nurtured hospital employees. She takes time out of her hectic schedule to talk with employees and also community members about what they think is important for the hospital.

Listening and active participation by Melissa Fraser is what has taken our hospital from a critical access hospital to being the healthcare choice for the Big Horn Basin!

2/16/2015 12:00:00 AM MOUNTAIN
Updated: 8/15/2016 3:27:48 PM MOUNTAIN
For more information, contact Ashley Trudo.