The Hospital Authority sets its sights on the future following multiple positive months and the passing of bond agreement

Published 6:44 pm Friday, January 20, 2017

The Memorial Hospital and Manor Authority met Tuesday afternoon and reflected on what they see as a brighter future for hospital finances. Treasurer Charles Tyson reported that for the fourth month in a row they have seen a positive net income. “Things we have put in place are working. We are headed in the right direction,” he exclaimed. The net income for the month of December was $453,952. Chair Glennie Bench pointed out that was the case, even though there were three payrolls in the month, adding that seven out of the nine months of the current fiscal year have been profitable.

Unfortunately, the accounts payable continued to rise by $47,617 over November, for a total amount due and payable of $6,488,389. That was designated as the next target to be addressed.

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Director of Hospital Nursing Laurie Eubanks reported on the development of an Ethics Committee and consultation policy that would identify how anyone (patient or employee) who has a concern with the hospital in any way can go for help. The board voted to approve it.

Eubanks also spoke about how she had brought the nurses together for a listening session. She reported the staff is feeling stressed from comments they hear in the community, that they are afraid the hospital will close and they will lose their jobs. Every time there is a layoff it creates additional stress, she said. Some are looking for jobs elsewhere. She wanted to allow them to express their fears, and to assure them that things are getting better. Discussion followed among the authority members on how the employees, as well as the community, can work together to support the hospital.

Tyson, Bench and CEO Billy Walker all expressed they have good positive feelings about the hospital after the called joint meeting held January 12 with the City of Bainbridge and County Commissioners. They were pleased with the large public attendance, as well as the coverage reported by The Post Searchlight. It is their hope that the general public, and the employees will begin to have more confidence in the future of the hospital, and indeed the future of the community, based on the meeting that showed the different entities working together for the betterment of all.

Walker gave his update as follows:

• In spite of rumors to the contrary, the ICU unit has not closed. They have, however, had to limit the number of patients in the unit at one time to four until a new fulltime ICU night nurse is hired.

• The hospital is currently replacing windows in the north hall of the second floor and will continue to replace 8 to 10 windows each month.

• A HealthCare grant is in the process of being written, with an application deadline of March 31. A forum of community leaders will be held January 27 at the Kirbo Center, as it requires collaboration from the community.

• Regarding the Tax Credit, a committee of volunteers has been formed to help get that news out, encouraging the public to make donations and take advantage of the credit. There have also been two new bills introduced to the Legislature to improve the tax credit.

The Authority voted approval of the purchase of a list of four items proposed to the Hospital Foundation, for which they have agreed to purchase all four. They are: (1) A centralized temperature monitoring system with Wi-Fi capability designed to provide 24/7 monitoring of temperatures within refrigerators where medications are stored, at a cost of $24,500. (2) Two ERKG machines for $22,000, that complete a test that checks for problems with the electrical activity of the heart. (3) A Bone Densitometer that scan tests bone density, determining the strength of the bones and a sure way to check for osteoporosis, at a cost of $59,000. (The current machine is 1998 or 99 vintage). (4) Wireless, touchscreen vital sign monitors (12) at a cost of $63,434, that measure oxygen saturation, temperature and blood pressure and directly download the information to the patient’s electronic medical record. This will save a lot of time for the nurses.