Hospital continuing improvements

Published 5:54 pm Thursday, January 19, 2012

The hospital authority of Memorial Hospital and Manor met Tuesday afternoon, Jan. 17, and reviewed the financial report for both November and December, as there was no meeting in December.

Key indicators for November reflected a net income loss of $33,182, but figures for the month of December were back in the black, and several board members shared their comments about a positive net income of $40,649. Current fiscal-year-to-date is $565,362 net income, contrasted to a negative $2,214,098 this time last year.

Credit was given to the successful implementation of the administration’s first-year plan of increasing revenue while reducing expenses, in keeping with a five-year strategy. CEO Billy Walker said this year has been tough, but the next year may be tougher, as compliance changes in medical care requirements continue to be put in place.

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A question was raised regarding the status of the planned coumadin clinic at the hospital pharmacy department, and the board was informed that it was scheduled to start “right away.” Coumadin is a drug used as a blood thinner, to prevent clots.Five new capital equipment purchases received board approval.

• A STERRAD NX system, used to sterilize scopes and camera heads and all equipment in the surgery department. Equipment cost is $48,974, and includes a service cost of $30,540 through year five, plus shipping, installation, for a total of $80,714. This purchase was necessary due to the distributor not being permitted to sell the needed STERIS supplies after Feb. 2, unless the hospital has completed a certificate of transition, including a valid purchase order for the equipment replacement. The former method is no longer approved by the FDA.

A new digital mammogram system on the way

• A G.E. Goldseal Senographe DS Mammography system, making it possible for the hospital to perform digital mammographies and Stereotactic biopsies, neither of which they have been able to do with the existing analog mammography system that is more than 11 years old. The American College of Radiology, Society of Breast Imaging and the American Cancer Society all recommend that patients receive a screening mammogram annually. It was reported that many of the hospital’s existing mammogram patients are opting to schedule appointments at facilities offering digital mammography. The digital system is thought to be more reliable, and the hospital is reimbursed at a higher rate than for analog procedures. It’s estimated that Medicare reimbursement alone will increase by 69 percent. The cost of the equipment is $286,672, plus a five-year service plan of $195,150.

• Two pieces of equipment were requested and approved for use in the practice of Dr. Aric Aldridge.

1) Alcon INFINITI software upgrade of procedure eye pack revisions, and two OZil hand pieces, used in cataract surgery, at a cost of $5,500. This change will reduce the current pack cost from $239 to $155.98 each.

2) Optical Biometer for intraocular lens calculations, a technology used in cataract surgery. Precise measurements for the shape and size of the eye help ensure proper power is implanted. This instrument provides for totally non-contact measurement of all data required for the lenses. Currently, Dr. Aldridge is using a system that requires direct contact with the eye and can only be performed by him. The new system is said to offer the patients the new lens technology and increases the efficiency of the department. The total cost is $30,780.

• Six Omnicell Savvy Carts with lockable drug dispensing drawers mounted on rolling workstations. The Joint Commission and Institute for Safe Medication Practices standards require the caregiver to take only one patient’s drugs at a time and give all of the drugs without interruption, and the drugs must be secured in locked drawers until the actual administration to the patient. These carts will provide bedside medication verification through bar coded scanning, and meet the “meaningful use” objectives in order for the hospital to qualify for bonus payments. This increases accuracy and efficiency of caregivers completing administration of medication and provides physicians faster and easier access to critical information in managing patient care. The total cost is $141,280.66

Assistant Administrator for Support Services, Lee Harris, also asked for and received approval of emergency capital equipment expenditures previously made: One from Nov. 17 to replace a tank on the Hologic bone densitomer at a cost of $6,180; and the other for replacement of the entire condensing unit in the walk-in freezer, which failed Dec. 31, 2011. The replacement cost of the unit was not to exceed $7,500.

CEO Update

Walker reported final plans for the Amelia Avenue office complex had been completed and a drawing was shown. A portion of the property is to be donated to the city to work on the elevation levels and install a holding pond to alleviate drainage problems in that area.

Walker also reported that Feb. 1 was the date for renewing the hospital malpractice insurance and he believed it would be a flat premium with no increase and even a slight decline in cost.

The administration has come to terms with three new physicians who will be coming to town. Two have signed the contract and one has made a verbal commitment. Walker later identified them as being a hospitalist and two primary care physicians, one specializing in internal medicine and the other family practice.

Another item covered was an amendment to the retirement plan. Previously, a separated employee could, at age 55, receive not only the portion they had paid into retirement, but also the employer’s portion. It is changed to age 59-1/2 before they can access the employer paid portion.

Chairman of the authority, Charles Tyson, moved to go into executive session, stating reasons to discuss total quality management, staff credentialing, medical staff issues, physician recruitment and to receive an update on legal activities.

Tyson later reported that the Authority had taken action on approving credentials of doctors during the executive session and voted on total quality management minutes, which is in violation of Georgia’s open meetings law.

According to the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, Section 50-14-1: “Any resolution, rule, regulation, ordinance, or other official action of an agency adopted, taken, or made at a meeting which is not open to the public as required by this chapter shall not be binding.”