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GBRH a driving force for local economy
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Sonya Rein


Sonya Rein, Patient Account Manager

Q: What do you do at Great Bend Regional Hospital?
A: We do the insurance billing and collections for visits to the hospital. I began in the Business Office of the Surgical and Diagnostic Center and then transitioned when we expanded to a full-service hospital.

Q: What city do you live in? Who else is in your family?
A: I’ve lived in Great Bend, Kansas, for 29 years. Family members: Husband, J.D.; daughter, Ali Rein; son, Thomas; and daughter-in-law, Melissa.

Q: What are your hobbies?
A: My home is my hobby. We seem to always have a redecorating or remodeling project in process. I like to walk and work out.

Q: What first drew you to this type of work?
A: My background is accounting and business administration so this type of work is what I like to do.

Q: What do you enjoy most about what you do?
A: I like a challenge and like to help others by solving problems. This can be frustrating, but rewarding.

Q: How has it changed since you first began, and what changes do you anticipate in the next 5-10 years?
A: Most of the billing and reimbursement process is now electronic. The medical charging and billing has grown increasingly complicated. I anticipate this to continue unless something changes politically.

In the heart of Kansas, many people often think of agriculture and energy when they think of the driving forces behind our economy. And they would be correct. But what many people forget is that health care is another huge force for good, with everything from primary and emergency care to senior living and home health agencies contributing to the workforce and the service sector.
Great Bend Regional Hospital started as a small Surgical and Diagnostic Center in 2001, and then expanded to a full-service regional hospital in 2009. The growing health-care provider has continually diversified and expanded its services, resulting in an ever-growing payroll.
“We currently employ over 340 different people, with a full time equivalency around 270,” said Brenda Kaiser, Human Resource director. “The Heartland Regional Health Clinic and Central Kansas Family Practice are included under the Great Bend Regional umbrella.”
While its payroll numbers may be impressive, the local employer does a lot more than just create jobs. Part of owning and operating a state-of-the-art facility comes with a hefty tax bill to help fund streets, schools and other government services.
“We are proud of the support we provide to local government through sales tax, property taxes and real estate taxes,” said Tim Latimer, chief financial officer. “We also spend thousands and thousands of dollars each year on advertising, as well as purchasing goods and services from local businesses, which supports those companies and their employees as well.”
What people may not realize, however, is that the hospital’s leadership team has a soft spot for giving back to local charities. The organization financially supports dozens of nonprofit organizations such as United Way, Central Kansas CASA, area schools and endowment foundations, the Barton County Fair, Chambers of Commerce, Barton County Young Professionals and many more.
“Like many local businesses, Great Bend Regional Hospital makes every effort to support local charities whenever we can by sponsoring events, attending fundraisers and donating to worthy causes,” said Brent Hanson, chief executive officer. “We also engage many of our employees in service projects and fundraisers from a volunteer perspective, and we facilitate scholarships for employees through the Kansas Board of Regents program.”
But one of the biggest line items in the hospital’s philanthropic budget is its financial aid program. For patients who cannot afford their medical bills, the hospital has policies in place that give them an opportunity to work through that difficult time. All billing and accounts receivables are handled in-house, not by a third party agency, until a bill reaches 90 days past due. During the first 90 days, patients can contact the Business Office to get more information about the programs available before it gets turned over to collections.
“We can work with patients in several ways. We offer an adjusted price for uninsured patients, and can set up payment plans to help them avoid collections,” said Sonya Rein, patient account manager. “And for low income families, we also offer a financial aid program that can help cover a portion of their remaining balance if they provide some documentation proving their income status.”
Great Bend Regional Hospital maintains its mission of expanding the health-care options for Great Bend and the surrounding communities, practicing medicine with the most current technology and quality care in a comfortable environment. Its slogan “Committed to and caring for the community” is evident in the numerous ways it facilitates economic growth. It would be nearly impossible to put a dollar value on the hospital’s commitment to its patients and the communities in the area, but that figure would inarguably be a driving force in the local economy.