Collections going one step further at PMH
Coming off the financially all-black month of March which showed an net income of $28,076, CFO Chad Carpenter reported to the Pocahontas Memorial Hospital Board of Directors that April, an historically slow month, showed that line in the red to the tune of $93,329.
Expenses stayed in line, Carpenter said.ﾠ That good news added to an adjusted lower amount for Worker's Compensation held the line on the month's loss, and the hospital is still in the black, year-to-date, $152,379.
"We are still capturing charges," Carpenter said in reference to billing for supplies and services rendered by the facility.
Days in Gross Accounts Receivable, or AR, stand at an all-time low of 75 days. The turnaround time in this department has been as high as 149 days.ﾠ This area has garnered a lot of the board's attention for several years, and now the billing and receipts are in an acceptable business neighborhood.
But that is not so with collection of unpaid bills.
Month after month the board has been asked to approve tens of thousands, and occasionally $100,000 to be sent to collection agencies and to be written off as bad debt.
"The [finance] committee discussed this in detail," Carpenter told the board.ﾠ "We have $165,000 that needs to be written off."
The committeeﾠdiscussed becoming more aggressive with the facility's collections - going one step beyond the collection agency by going to Magistrate Court.
"It's time we say we're serious, we need these bills paid," Carpenter said. "These people are here every month.ﾠ If they would just bring in the info that we need, we can help them. We can write them off and the hospital can be reimbursed."
Three documents are required for an individual to qualify for an Income Based Discount - driver's license, a copy of the most recent Income Tax Return and a utility bill.
Patients who have outstanding balances have been called, and they promise to bring it in, but few make good on that promise.
"Once you bring in the info, it's good for a year," CEO Barbara Lay said.
The option of taking collections to the magistrate level is in the hospital's policy. At the end of the discussion, ﾠthe board agreed to go the magistrate route with $65,000, and to write off $100,000 to bad debt.
Although April was reported as a slow month, physicians still saw 594 out-patients, with 223 logged in at the emergency room.
The PMH Rural Health Clinic continued to show a profit. The welcomed change to that bottom line goes hand-in-hand with the clinic's new status and its venue under the hospital's roof. Although visits were down slightly to 421 in March and 401 in April, March found that department in the black in the amount of $15,632, April $9,134, combining for a two month year-to-date profit of $35,256.
The hospital and clinic's staff of physicians and physician's assistants may increase in the near future as Lay told the board that she has interviewed two family practice/preventative medicine physicians for full-time positions and is checking references on a part-time physician.
Increased in-house physician coverage will be complemented by improvements to the facility.
Lay told the board about plans to improve the clinic area to make it a Rural Health Clinic Suite.ﾠ Working with Contemporary Designs, upgrades will be made toward comfort in the exam rooms and improved safety by adding additional fire doors.
A new chiller will be added to the AC unit, and the hospital is in the market for a new ambulance.
COO Terry Wagner reported on the success of the Health Fair.
"We've had 1,349 blood screens with two more sites to go," Wagner said.
In addition, a new CT Scan has been installed in radiology.ﾠ Following employee training it will be "up and running," she said.
Chief Nursing Officer Kerry Ridgeway reported that the respiratory department has new equipment and will be providing pulmonary function tests in the near future.
Rural Health Clinic Director Dr. Frank Puckett reported that plans are in process to provide endoscopies at the hospital, as well. There has been a good response from the community concerning this service, he said.
With improvements in services and the facility underway, the board itself is looking to improve performance as it begins to work toward certification.
"Moving forward, it's going to be required," said board president Dr. Bob Must.ﾠ "I'd like for us to start down that path now."
This certification will require all board members to attend training and conferences as part of theirﾠ responsibilities. Lay and three board members recently attended a conference at Stonewall Resort.
"It was interesting for me," said board member Cathy Mosesso. "It is amazing how similar we are to other boards members from other organizations.ﾠ I learned a lot from the questions and answers."
To set up a strategic plan, the hospital is utilizing information from the West Virginia Governance Board Assessment. We're working hard to identify what is broken and to work on that, Lay told the board.
More improvements and changes are in store for the county hospital.
"There are some very exciting ideas," Must said. "We're very happy to be embarking upon this path."
The board meets again Thursday, June 28, at 6 p.m. in the hospital conference room.
Jaynell Graham may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org