Board cheers year-end numbers at PMH
Pocahontas Memorial Hospital's board of directors got some long-awaited good news at Thursday night's meeting.
Chief Financial Officer Chad Carpenter advised the board that, for the first time in eight years, the facility ended it fiscal year in the black. The pre-audit financial statement showed a net income for the month of June in the amount of $52,785 which led to a year-to-date net income of $117,134. Adjustments may be made to that bottom line when the records are reviewed by the hospital's accounting firm of Arnett and Foster.
"Please keep in mind that these are pre-audit numbers," ﾠCarpenter told the board. "They will be adjusted, but we do think the numbers will be in the black, and that is very exciting for us."
A walk through the financial statement revealed that the PMH Ambulance ended the year in the black, as well, with a year-to-date income of $25,148.
"When's the last time that happened - the ambulance showing a profit at the end of the year?" asked board president Dr. Bob Must.
"Never," was the unison reply from Carpenter and CEO Barbara Lay.
Although the Rural Health Clinic had 463 visits in June, it showed a small loss for the month but it, too, ended the year in the black to the tune of $60,990.
The RHC began operation in February but Medicare and Medicaid invoices have been on hold awaiting "go-ahead" paperwork from those insurers.
Must questioned the decline in the amount of hospital in-patient charges.
"Is it because we had people here just for observation?" he asked.
Carpenter informed the board that observation could be a little bit of it.ﾠ Some patients were admitted to the facility for access to oxygen during the power outage.
"We do keep an eye on this [daily charges]," Carpenter said.ﾠ "Because we learned that we were not capturing all charges."
Days in AR or Accounts Receivable crept up to 86.
"Blue Cross erroneously declined a week's worth of claims," Carpenter said.ﾠ "But we are working on that now."
The hospital's contract with Quadex is working very well and it keeps track of things like the glitch with Blue Cross.
"Insurance companies are getting harder and harder to deal with," Lay told the board.
Must expressed concern that the hospital census is lower than last year.ﾠ That is due, in part, to the fact that the facility had more than 1,600 swing bed days last year as compared to 872 days this year.
"When you don't market your swing bed program, you don't get patients," Lay told the board. "That is something we are going to work on in the future."
Although the number was significantly lower than in previous months, Carpenter asked the board's permission to write off another $87,378.18 and to send those accounts to collections.
Those write-offs and exonerations were the only negative portion of the meeting.
"We have really good news," said Lay. "We've been waiting since October of last year to bill from our clinic as a Rural Health Clinic, and today - at 10 'til 4 - we received our initial rate letter [from Medicare] so in the morning Wanessa [Cassell] will start billing and you should see an improvement in the days in AR.
Medicare bills have been sitting there since February. Hopefully it won't take five more months to get our Medicaid number."
Lay and other staff members attended a Critical Access Hospital Forum at Glade Spring where they learned the benefit of entering into the 340-B pharmacy program, which will allow patients to get their medication at a lower cost.
"We also want to hire and develop a Public Relations person," Lay said. "We've had people who have stepped up, worked really hard to do a good job in addition to their usual work.ﾠ But when you wear too many hats, one or two will fall off."
Lay informed the board of the recent problem with insurance coverage through the county for the hospital's contents and ambulances due to the county commission changing insurers.
"Sara [Casto] called me at 7:20 that evening and we grounded our ambulances," Lay said. "BFD not only loaned us an ambulance, but a driver, as well. They worked for us for 48 hours, and the commission worked really hard and everything worked out."
As PMH worked with the commission to correct the problem, administration learned that the facility has been and is paying $500 a month to the commission toward the insurance premium.
State code allows PMH to work exactly as it is working under the commission, Lay said.
The hospital continues toward the goals set forth in Journey to Excellence, and, as part of that, presented a program to its employees, reviewing the facility's recent financial history, which showed why changes had to be made.
"The hard work and the changes we have made will help us to keep our hospital in the community," Lay said.
Excellence and cost effectiveness are really what all hospitals are going to have to adhere to going forward, she added.
"It is certainly notable that we have improvements to HCAAPS [which measures patient satisfaction], that we have finished a fiscal year in the black, and that we have received approval from Palmetto to improve billing and make it possible to be a scholarship site for providers who may wish to come here to get their loans repaid," said Must. "It's a great day."
The annual meeting of the board was held in conjunction with the regular meeting.
Leaning toward the old adage of ﾠ"if it ain't broke, don't fix it"ﾠ the board re-elected last year's officers of Must as chairman of the board, Donald McNeel as vice-chair, and Cathy Mosesso as secretary.
The board meets again Thursday, August 23, at 6 p.m in the hospital conference room.
Jaynell Graham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org