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Chinese delegation visits Jamestown

A Chinese interpreter explains to a group of delegates Thursday what happens in the surgery area at Jamestown Hospital. John M. Steiner The Sun

Jamestown played host to a delegation of 10 Chinese officials Thursday who traveled roughly 8,000 miles looking to improve their country's health care system.

Five officials from the city of Xinxiang and five officials from a Chinese national think tank toured Noridian's Jamestown office as well as Jamestown Hospital as part of a 10-day tour across the country.

Jamestown Hospital is a perfect example of an efficient and productive rural hospital making it an ideal stop for the tour, said Marty Richman, president and CEO of Jamestown Hospital.

In recent years the hospital has received recognition as one of the top 100 hospitals in the country from Thompson Reuters, Richman said.

Jamestown Hospital is also relocating in two years so the delegation can see a rural hospital that is growing, he said.

"We're different from the large hospitals they're going to see, we're in a growth mode," Richman said.

The Chinese delegation toured all major units in Jamestown Hospital and asked questions through interpreters along the way.

The hospital is one of many stops on the delegation's visit to the United States.

They already visited Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota administration in Fargo and Noridian administration services. Later on the trip the delegation will visit MeritCare in Fargo, the Washington, D.C., centers for Medicare and Medicaid, and a hospital in Los Angeles, said Craig Campbell, executive vice president and chief administrative officer of Noridian.

MeritCare in Fargo will serve as an example of a larger hospital and the hospital in Los Angles will serve as an example of one of the largest hospitals, Campbell said.

Xinxiang has 5.5 million people so the tour of the three facilities will give the delegation a complete view of how health care and insurance providers work together in the U.S., he said.

The purpose of Thursday's visit in Jamestown was to learn how a rural hospital provides services for the general public and how the hospital works with insurance companies, said Shi Dinghuan, councilor of State Council of China, though an interpreter.

China is in the process of improving its health care provider network and there is a lot the Chinese can learn and exchange with officials in North Dakota, Dinghuan said.

Noridian out of Fargo will perform a joint pilot study with Xinxiang, providing city officials with a collection of data analyses the city will use to help the educational process and health care financing reform, Campbell said.

Campbell said the joint pilot is a first in health care financing reform with a foreign country and that in the past the country would usually have a government agency provide the delivery of services.

"(Noridian is) looking at providing reliable data to make informed decisions about health care delivery and health care financing," he said.

Hospital staff gave a presentation and answered questions about the health care process at a rural hospital after the tour.

Richman said that 73 percent of Jamestown Hospital's billing goes through Medicare and BCBS. He also explained what a critical access hospital is (the hospital is a critical need for the area it serves), and how Jamestown Hospital receives federal funding because of its designation as a critical access hospital.

Yong Chen, head of the medical insurance administration in Xinxiang, said through an interpreter he was impressed with the hospital management and the idea of a critical access hospital.

Chen said he also wants to bring back to China the collaboration between agencies like BCBS and Jamestown Hospital.

"If they want to pool risk, which is what Blue Cross does, they need some methodology for business and communities to come together and share that risk," Richman said.

Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by e-mail at