Out with the old, in with the new at PMH
CFO Chad Carpenter had a lot of good news and a little bad news for the Pocahontas Memorial Hospital board of directors at its meeting on Thursday night.
In the good news department, the hospital showed a profit of $118,352 for the month of January. But on the downside, none of that income came about as a result of collecting on past due accounts.
Efforts to contact patients to arrange payments for these bad debts have met with no success, Carpenter said.
Because of the lack of response from those who accumulated the debt, the board once again approved a write-off, this time in the amount of $95,876.75.
PMH is a county owned hospital and patients cannot be turned away because of lack of resources. But there is a charity care exoneration program available to reimburse the hospital for the care it provides to these patients who have no means of paying their bills.
"Debbie Peacock does a great job," CEO Barbara Lay told the board.ﾠ "There is a program to help people get service despite their ability to pay.ﾠ They just need to come in and do that paperwork."
But that offer is often ignored by patients, to the detriment of the hospital.
"Patients tell us that they will bring their info right back to apply for help," Carpenter said. "But they don't come back. It is the same story."
"The amount is going down," said board president Dr. Bob Must.
But despite the slight decline in this month's write-offs, the total bad debts written off or sent to a collection agency in the first seven months of this fiscal year now stands at $1.13 million.
The bad debt situation did not dampen the board's appreciation of the forward momentum that PMH has seen in its statistics and finances these past few months.
Days in Accounts Receivable has been a concern of the board's for years.ﾠ Days in AR for January were reported at 95, the lowest number since June 2010.
"We had strong revenue this month," board member Dan Lewis said. "thanks to Puckett and company."
Dr. Frank Puckett reported to the board that the volume of patients being seen in the Emergency Room has remained steady.ﾠ There were 427 ER visits in January, the highest reported total on the 31 month statistical chart.
The transfer rate to other facilities was at five percent, which again accounted for a reduction in the number of ambulance runs. But PMH Ambulance was still able to show a profit in excess of $6,000 for the month.
"The modules at the ER make it look more professional," Puckett said.ﾠ "And morale has improved."
Staff is more effective and more accountable, as well, he said.
Although the PMH Medical Practice saw an increase in visits, it reported another "red" month.
With the Rural Health Clinic status and a large portion of the clinic services now housed at PMH, the administration believes that the days of financial losses in this department may well be behind them.
The facility passed the OHFLAC survey with " no deficiencies noted," COO Terry told the board.
As a result of the RHC status all Medicare and Medicaid billing will qualify for a higher reimbursement.
"We're moving in the right direction, Lay said.
With improvements made to the lobby and ER to accommodate the RHC, Lay presented the board with recommendations for some critical needs for improving and refurbishing other areas of the facility.
Those items were approved by the board, and include an air conditioning unit for the CT scan area, a new and larger generator, a four-wheel drive ambulance, as well as mundane things like gutters, downspouts and window and roof repair, carrying a total tab of more than $400,000.
In addition to sprucing up the building, the board reviewed the new Code of Conduct for employees.
"Are appearance standards enforceable?" asked Lewis.ﾠ "It dealt a lot with how a person looks - piercings and tattoos."
It is a matter of professional appearance, Lay said. And some issues, such as nail care, can become an infectious control matter.
Several matters entered into the category of "out with old and in with the new."ﾠ
The exception would be in the auditing process.ﾠ Although Arnett and Foster increased their annual fee, the firm audits 17 of the 18 Critical Access hospitals in West Virginia.
In addition to auditing services, PMH gains "expertise," Lay told the board.
An unused x-ray machine at PMH has been purchased by another hospital, and PMH will take possession of the old CT building for $1.ﾠ A building which, in the future, may house mammography.
In an "extremely new category" are plans put forth by the PMH Marketing Committee, made up of Pharmacist Jim Burks, Interim Chief Nursing Officer Edwina Garber, Radiology Supervisor Cheryl Cain, Dietary Service personnel Dorothy Morgan and Ultrasound Technician Lori Novak.
This committee is working to establish an annual event to raise funds to refurbish a room in the hospital each year.
The event, beginning this year, is called "The First Spring Fling Dance," a semi-formal affair to be held at the Pocahontas County Opera House on Saturday, April 7, from 7 to 11 p.m.ﾠ Music will be provided by The Kings from Roanoke Virginia.ﾠ This band is noted forﾠits performance at radio station Q-99's "Second Chance Prom."
Tickets may be purchased from the committee members.
The board meets again in an informal meeting on March 22, 6 p.m. in the hospital conference room.