Hospital Board tightens up on collections

Published 6:11 pm Friday, January 23, 2015

As the financial figures reported for Memorial Hospital and Manor have grown more negative in November and December, 2014, nearly the entire January board meeting was devoted to discussion of the financial situation and what could be done to reverse the losses.

November reported a loss of $479,266, while December’s was a minus $303,361 for a total year-to-date loss of $988,374. One bright spot was noted by board treasurer Glennie Bench, who said an installment payment of $1.2 million incentive money is expected this month from the government for the hospital meeting “meaningful use” requirements. However, she noted, you can’t count on when government payments will be made.

New Chief Financial Officer, Bill Huling, who began the job Dec. 1, said he has been pouring over the accounts and come up with some ideas for the board’s consideration. Huling comes to Bainbridge following early retirement from South Georgia Medical Center in Valdosta.

Email newsletter signup

Basically, he is suggesting that accounts in arrears be sold to exchanges, or secondary collection agencies, including some of those that may have been written off in prior years.

Although he did not yet have exact figures, he estimated that selling $2.5 million collectibles on the exchange would increase the cash flow “considerably.” It was mentioned that any cash received from such sale would be applied to the $3,626,482 accounts payable.

It was also noted that the hospital is not doing as good a job of getting payment up-front for elective, non-emergency procedures and self-pay accounts, which includes persons who are insured, but have high deductibles. CEO Billy Walker mentioned that many physicians are refusing to see patients who have outstanding balances for which they have not made payment arrangements. He recommended that primary care physicians adopt that procedure.

B. Walker indicated he had gone ahead and entered into a temporary agreement with AR Exchange for an account evaluation period that expires March 1.

Huling recommended purchase of additional software that would speed up electronic filing of claims where medical office staff are currently completing the procedure manually.

Approval was given for purchase of the software at a cost of $42,000 to be paid over 36 months.

Dr. Charles Walker indicated that his and other doctor’s offices need some guidance on what to do about referral of patients from outside the area. He reported he had that day completed two surgeries on VA patients from other communities, and suspects they came here because no one else would accept them. “We don’t know what their rates are,” said Walker. Huling replied that the VA is low pay, less than Medicare.

During the CEO update, B. Walker mentioned two awards received.

• One was to the 2014 A Team for their work in antibiotic stewardship and raising awareness of antibiotic medicine abuse.

• The second was for efforts in working with the Georgia Hospital Association to improve quality and patient satisfaction.

• The Hospital is now a certified drug-free workplace.

• The new hospitalist service starts January 31.

• First Port City Bank staff has been cooking and providing much appreciated lunches for hospital workers two days this week and will repeat it two more next week.

• TeleHealth system equipment is to be installed Friday and meetings with the two school system staffs will be held. There will be discussions of what to do with students who have no insurance.

• Surveyors were on hospital/manor grounds for four days in December, Overall the review was good and one citation received for one patient whose head level on the bed was not at the right height. There was also a visit from the State Fire Marshall office, which found a slight opening in the insulation in the smoke doors between Manor I and II.

• A preliminary estimate of new funding cuts expected under the Affordable Care Act over the next two years is just over $1.8 million, just for our hospital. Walker reported that the state of Kentucky has seen a $2 Billion dollar infusion of funds by expanding Medicaid.  He believes it would help many hospitals if the state of Georgia would do the same.

Employee of the month was recognized as Bridgett Glenn, CNA, employed in the Medical-Surgical Department.  She was nominated for her kindness in giving her dinner away to the family member of a patient who needed a meal.