NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF COUNTIES RECOGNIZES DOÑA ANA COUNTY

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF COUNTIES RECOGNIZES DOÑA ANA COUNTY

The National Association of Counties (NACo) has announced that Doña Ana County is the winner of a 2005 Achievement Award for its leadership in health care.

The county took the top spot in the health category with its "Community Collaboration Model for the Preservation of a County Healthcare System," a chronicle of how county and city officials addressed the 2003 economic crisis at Memorial Medical Center.

"We're very proud that the 'Community Collaboration Model' may be an example to other counties," County Manager Brian Haines said. "The very thorough and open process gave residents the power to call many of the shots for their healthcare and who would operate their hospital."

Elected officials and management from both the city and county began the "Community Collaboration Model" in April 2003 and asked the community to define its own health care needs and to set its own criteria for a healthcare provider to meet those needs. The process ended in December 2003 when city and county officials announced the selection of Province Healthcare Corporation to run Memorial Medical Center.

The city and county leased the hospital to Province for $150 million up front, the proceeds from which paid off old debt and established health care funds for widening and strengthening the county’s health care network.

Appended to the county's Achievement Award submission is a handout for the NACo Annual Conference. The handout is entitled "Five Lessons from Our Hospital Crisis," and notes, "Trust your stakeholders with an open process and they'll trust you with their support." The five lessons cited by county elected officials were:

* Healthcare is more than just "hospital care"

* Healthcare is about more than the current performance of our county hospital

* A completely open process will build community buy-in

* There is value in sticking to our "Community Criteria" during negotiations

* We will not fall for the conventional stereotypes of "public," "non-profit" and "for-profit"

NACo's Achievement Award Program recognizes counties for the management of and services provided by county government in more than 20 categories. The award will be presented at the National Association of Counties 2005 Conference in Hawaii in July.

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Reporters seeking more information or interviews may call county Public Information Director Jess Williams at (505) 647-7229.