Answers provided to questions raised by Hospital employee

Published 5:34 pm Tuesday, November 29, 2016


Lifestyle Editor

Hospital Authority President, Glennie Bench, has provided to The Post-Searchlight a copy of her written answers to the questions and comments proposed by nurse, Vicky Gordon, at the Authority’s November meeting. Of necessity, many of the answers have been consolidated and reduced in size due to space availability.

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Question 1. Why was money spent on a new hospital logohow much was spent on the patent design, physician lab coats, stationery and decals?

Answer: The hospital paid nothing for the new logo because Inland (Southwest Georgia Oil Company, Inc.) donated the services of the graphic designer they use to develop the logo. As information, it was a very inexpensive logo even though it was donated. Physician lab coats were purchased as gifts from the hospital last Christmas and each has one lab coat with the new logo. Stationery and other items are replaced with the new logo as existing supplies run out.

Question 1, Part 2: Why was money spent on the remodel of the medical surgical area nurses’ station and the same-day surgical nurses’ station in light of tight finances and the need for recent staff reductions?

Answer: Other than the cost of 10 new windows and the cost of the flooring and the sign right outside the elevator on the second floor, both areas were paid for with donations earmarked for that specific purpose. We will continue to use donated money to do facility improvements like remodeling projects and use our operational money to handle operations like payroll and employee benefits. The point is made that it is important to update the facility and taking care of the maintenance that has been deferred for too long.  We are also investing in equipment. In the last year the following equipment has been acquired; 312-slice CT scanner, 3D/4D ultrasound system, IT hardware/server replacement, luminometer, coagulation system, urine analyzer, patient lift, telehealth equipment, (5) HVAC systems, refrigerator for pharmacy , commercial convection oven for cafeteria, time clock, multiple PCs, phone system for HR department and a scanner copier fax machine.

Question: Why were staff reductions based on a Productivity Study, which used dates when our patient counts are usually the lowest (summer months)?

Answer: The productivity study is a means of establishing people staffing levels based on efficiency and performance.

Question: Why is money spent on remodeling when basic equipment is in disrepair?

Answer:  References made to the non-operating HVAC system serving ICU and the ER. Authority members were angry to hear that the patients were either too hot or too cold. The repair has been authorized and the part ordered. Expected arrival date is 23rd, and maintenance will work to install it the same day.

Regarding the thermometer being used by the ICU, this could have been resolved by submitting a requisition for replacement. No requisition was submitted, but the Chief Nursing Officer has since turned a requisition.

Question: How can the staff continue to provide the quality of care we are expected to provide with less staff and inadequate equipment?

Answer: We can adjust staffing levels if the situation calls for it. None of this is counter to our goal of operating as efficiently as we can and ensuring that the staff on duty is operating at their highest level of performance and delivering the best in care.

Question: Why does a hospital of our size require so many “Director” or “Chief” positions?

Answer: Basically the answer references to the needs of a hospital with 80 beds, emergency room, surgical suite, obstetrics and gynecology wing, 4-bed rehab wing, out-patient surgery wing, full-service radiology suite and laboratory, 107 bed skilled nursing facility with 426 employees. In addition they operate five physician offices, an out-patient physical therapy department and an assisted living facility that employs or utilizes 102 physicians and employees.

Question: Why does the hospital spend money outsourcing duties such as billing/collections, programs such as BRIDGE, productivity studies, etc. while still employing full-time people to handle those duties?

Answer: With regard to billing and collections, the nature of reimbursements from insurance companies and Medicare/Medicaid have changed drastically in the last 5-7 years.  We have gone from a process where commercial insurance paid enough to offset an individual’s share of the cost to one that is razor thin – from being fully reimbursed of the cost for Medicare and Medicaid claims to one where reimbursements are often a fraction of the cost. We are utilizing experts in medical billing to help get us on track.

With regard to BRIDGE, the purpose is to raise awareness of what a patient or family member sees and feels while in our care. We are challenged to go the extra mile.

Question: Why are some employee’s life insurance policies being cancelled for non-payment when money is being deducted from their pay for those policies?

Answer: According to the hospital’s human resources department, some employees received letters stating payment had not been received for this life insurance policy. Once alerted to the situation, it was discovered that the hospital was in error, but this was corrected immediately and at no time had any policies lapsed.

Question: How close is our hospital to closing the doors or bankruptcy? Can we even recover from the losses we’ve experienced and still offer the best care to our community?

Answer: There is no doubt that our hospital faces critical challenges and we will need to show substantial financial improvement to overcome those challenges. We have to show our community that we are willing to make the changes necessary to be viable for decades to come—even if that means doing away with long-standing benefits or subsidies.