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New hospital opening with eye on lower costs

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Cindy Slaydon has extensive experience opening hospitals and now has come to enjoy what Las Cruces has to offer as she steers the city’s newest hospital toward its new journey.

Three Crosses Regional Hospital is set to open its doors to patients Oct. 8.  The facility will offer acute care with full emergency, cardiology, imaging, laboratory and surgical services.

“We want to be a leader in raising the bar for health care in the region,” Slaydon said. “One thing that makes us different is decisions are made locally. That includes management and physicians.”

Slaydon said she has worked for large organizations and the best thing about the smaller, more intimate setting at Three Crosses is that “the heart is at home.”

She said the organization gets to be what the people need. Decisions can be local.

“We are also able to flex real quickly,” she said. “There’s not a lot of corporate oversite, so we can make the decisions as to how to take care of people today. If we need to change how we do business, we can change it tomorrow. A physician or team can help provide direct care for patients, and if we need to, we can make direct decisions we need about what equipment we need, what supplies, what drugs, what everything.”

As a nurse since 1977, Slaydon got into leadership roles as senior vice president of a couple of companies. In 2003-2004 she was working with Tenet Healthcare Corporation and became their clinician of the year. That’s when they asked her to open a hospital in Frisco, Texas, and she was off and running. Today, she is independent and still opening hospitals.

“I don’t know if you have ever built a home, but quadruple that tenfold and multiply it by six and you get an idea of what it’s like,” Slaydon said. “It’s choosing every item, hiring the staff, writing the policies and procedures, meeting all the standards and getting it open.”

The facility was planned to in June, butaccess to supplies and equipment was curtailed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“America wasn’t ready,” Slaydon said. “Everything from masks to equipment threw the whole country into a tailspin. When it all started happening, we were just placing orders for anesthesia machines and ventilators.”

The orders were delayed as the machines went to more critical needs across the country. Other supplies were stuck in Louisiana for 14 days in quarantine. The board and investors made the decision to wait on the opening.

Three Crosses should be able to lower costs to consumers and insurance providers because of its smaller size and home-based nature, Slaydon said.

“We become a cost-effective alternative to the larger corporations,” she said. “It costs more to run a big hospital corporation than it does to run a small, independent hospital.

She said the overhead is lower, so needs and reimbursements are not as great. Looking at some of the nation’s physician run organizations, she said, they have metrics that show quality like low infection rates and other things. There tend to be fewer readmissions and fewer incidents that cause patients to stay longer making the actual cost of care lower.

The stated mission of Three Crosses is to raise the standard for quality of care in Southern New Mexico, attract the best physicians and staff to Las Cruces and capture 10 percent of the local healthcare market, not to dominate it.

When fully accredited, the hospital will serve Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance and private pay patients. It is opening with 98,000 square feet, 46 patient beds, 10 emergency beds, 10 intensive-care beds and 36 medical surgical beds. It has four surgical suites, full service diagnostic imaging and an interventional cardiology program with two cath labs, echo and nuclear medicine capability.

Plans for the future include a neighboring rehabilitation hospital, already in progress and other related facilities to provide all needed services in one location.