Hospital Board mulls over finances

Published 6:15 pm Friday, October 24, 2014

Memorial Hospital board members expressed concern and frustration over the deteriorating financial situation.  September’s key indicators reported at Tuesday’s meeting showed a loss for the month of $160,607 and a mid-year loss of $316,395, compared to a net income last year-to-date of $335,970. 

Although expenses are down, collections and reimbursements are slow. This prompted authority chairman Charles Tyson, to comment that people should be told, “You have to pay us, or else we’re going to have to shut the doors.”

A discussion followed regarding whether or not the Affordable Care Act had helped or hurt the local situation. Hospital CEO Billy Walker said, “Our situation is worse, compounded by the state not expanding Medicaid.”

Authority treasurer and chair of the finance committee, Glennie Bench, said she believed the problems are worse in the rural areas like Southwest Georgia where the options for insurance coverage are more expensive than other areas and insured co-pays and deductibles are higher for all. “The expectation was that the state would expand Medicaid, but it didn’t work when they didn’t,” she added.

Bench called for an in-depth study of all departments and services offered by the hospital and manor, saying “Everything has to be on the table.”

Several matters presented to the board received approval.

• Capital purchase of an upgraded time and attendance system and associated software, in the amount of $37,157.50 over a five-year period. The hospital received notice the existing system will no longer be supported after December.

• Amended documents in the retirement plan, allowing participants the option to cash out retirement of $5,000 or less or roll over into an IRA.

• Approved continuing with current health insurance broker, Trinity Health Service, after receipt and review of higher proposals from other brokers.

• Approved changing vendors of the patient satisfaction survey, pending results of reference checks on new vendor J.L. Morgan & Assoc., who gave a proposal of $38,653, compared to current provider quote of $44,020.

• Approved naming Southland MD of Thomasville as the new Hospitalist provider service at an annual cost of $32,673. Hospitalists provide coverage from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, work alternate weekends and take night calls overseeing patients admitted to the hospital.

• Billy Walker gave updates that included progress being made on the two tele-medical grants received that connect the Jones Wheat Elementary and West Bainbridge Elementary schools with Amelia Medical Plaza Offices and Memorial Pediatrics.

• The hospital held two health fairs this month — one with Farm Credit and the other with the Board of Education. On November 5 a community health fair will be held at the YMCA, and a later date will be set for the employees of the City of Bainbridge.

• The hospital saw an increase in mammograms performed during October, Breast Cancer Awareness month, as the result of special emphasis.

• A new obstetrician/gynecologist, Adrienne Crow, M.D. will begin practice in Magnolia Women’s Center on or about the first of December. A new nurse practitioner will begin in January at Amelia.

• The STRATUS alliance meetings have begun and it is the goal to make comparisons by sharing with other regional hospitals as to how they handle certain situations.

• Walker assured the board that the hospital is receiving daily information from the CDC on the Ebola situation and working to be prepared for that eventuality.

• They are also working to become certified as a drug-free workplace, through testing both pre-and post employment.

Following a closed executive session, the board returned to open meeting and voted to approve minutes from prior executive sessions.

It was noted that Betty Stevens, of the labor and delivery department was named employee of the month. She was nominated for volunteering to make a transport after her shift was over.