Hospital’s annual audit disturbing

Published 5:59 pm Friday, September 18, 2015

Memorial Hospital and Manor Authority members reacted to a less than favorable audit statement at their Tuesday meeting.

The audit conducted and presented by Draffin & Tucker, LLP. states “FY 2015 proved to be a challenging year for the Authority. Factors affecting the Authority’s financial performance included a $1.4 million or 48 % increase in indigent/charity write-offs, $898,000 or 13 % increase in bad debts and a $2.6 million or 5% increase in other uncompensated charges. Compared to FY 2014, these factors resulted in a $4.3 million or 9.5% decrease in total operating revenues. However, expenses increased only $543,000 or 1.2% from the previous year.”

Presenting auditor, Bert Bennett commented, “This is the largest loss history I’ve seen here in all my years auditing this hospital.”

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A response from CFO Bill Huling was that the people in the business office did not properly handle accounts. They did not work the denials from insurance companies as they should have. Indicating that insurance has limits on appeals, it is believed the business office did not follow through in timely manner on unpaid claims. However, changes have been made in personnel and procedures to correct the situation. Old accounts have been outsourced for collection and current staff is finding it a challenge to keep up with current accounts. There is a lot of catching up to do in a situation that has been going on for two or three years, he commented.

Authority president, Glennie Bench said, “This is not good news, but in my mind it justifies the actions we took and changes we have made to address the issues we saw.” The presenting auditor pointed out the need to increase internal controls with computer programs and the educated staff to do the functions so each claim can be monitored. He commented that the Authority has already made strides and put efforts into remedying the situation. “Given the things you are doing, I certainly hope this is the bottom and that you are able to pull out of this. You are in a recovery mode right now.”

Asked by Bench what other things should be monitored to see that we are on track, Bennett replied there was a need to study the volume of the services provided, and increase those that are profitable.

He added the opinion that the Affordable Care Act has placed a burden on the backs of hospitals especially in rural areas. He advised looking at what services the hospital needs to provide and what the environment will allow. The state of Georgia did not expand Medicaid, which would have helped. “You are in a very difficult environment,” he advised.

A capital equipment purchase was approved to update the order on a CT scanner approved at last month’s meeting. The revision allows for an upgrade of 32 images per rotation, with advanced dose-reduction technology known as ASIR. ASIR can produce the same diagnostic accuracy as a full dose CT, but at a fraction of the radiation. This adds an additional $56,625 to the original proposal. One additional study per week would almost cover the entire cost of both upgrades. It was noted that it should conservatively increase the procedures Memorial can do by 10 percent.

Also approved was a revision in the employee payroll deduction policy, allowing 25% discounts to self-paying employees for both inpatient and outpatient procedures, while setting the amount of payments that can be made through payroll deductions.

A Relay Health Software program that improves the estimation procedure for up front patient information billing standards was approved for $16,621.

CEO Billy Walker updated the Authority on the matter of Georgia’s Certificate of Need status being challenged.

Walker thanked the Decatur County Commission for working together to address the indigent care payments. The county is proposing a tax increase and Walker said it is important that people support the hospital.

The Georgia Hospital Association and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce are submitting proposals to Georgia legislature to expand Medicaid in the state.

A list of coming activities was announced by Walker.

• Wednesday, Sept. 23. A Men’s Health program taught by Dr. Charles Walker.

• Sept. 30 – Breast Cancer awareness luncheon at Kirbo Center.

• The month of October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month,. The hospital will offer $50 mammograms.

• Oct. 13 there will be a reception for new physician, Dr. Ryan Curren and Nurse Practioner, Karen Elliott.

• A series of health fairs will be conducted in October for City employees and the Board of Education.

• November 6. A community health fair will be held.

It was announced that the Manor received an award from the National Research Foundation for customer satisfaction in nursing care.

Following an executive meeting, the Authority came back into open session, approving the executive committee minutes, and credentialing for Kenneth Winnard, MD-Internal Medicine;  Pranav Diwan, MD-Cardiology; Reappointments for W. Merrill Hicks Jr. MD-Nephrology; Andrew Wong, MD-Orthopedics; David Isaacs, DO-Teleradiology; Angie Tyus, NP and Steve Maynard, DPM-Podiatry.