Routine business a good change of pace at PMH
After several months of scrambling to improve processes and finances the Pocahontas Memorial Hospital Board of Directors enjoyed an agenda sans hot button items at its meeting on Thursday night.
“If you’ve been a patient, you can feel and see that it’s a better hospital,” said board member Cathy Mosesso.
That “feel” is due in large part to the fact that there is a constant eye on ways to improve delivery of services.
COO Terry Wagner told the board that staff is working hard to improve processes at the Rural Health Clinic as well as improving patient flow.
AmeriCorp VISTA Clair Goff will come on board in February to help PMH work toward Patient Centered Medical Home, a program that works with the patient and his or her primary physician as well as family, when necessary, to ensure that the best care is being provided within the hospital as well as when the patient returns home.
But not all care is focused on patients, as Wagner reported that monthly birthday cakes celebrate those milestones in employees’ lives, and a baby shower was recently held for an employee in the respiratory department. PMH will begin Healthy Action Plans in February as another means to improve employee morale.
CEO Barbara Lay reported on the findings of the Revenue Cycle Solutions team that had recently reviewed PMH’s processes – start to finish – with regard to patient registration through the billing procedures and collections.
And when it came to “non-collections” the Revenue Cycle team had better options, as well, she said.
At the present time PMH is turning over bad debts to a collection agency with very little success.
CFO Chad Carpenter asked the board to write of exonerations for bad debts in the amount of $76,070.68. While that amount is down from previous months, it is still too high.
PMH had 40 Requests for Financial Assistance applications in December amounting to $28,241.35. Of those, 39 were approved and one applicant was offered another payment option.
In its exit interview the Revenue Cycles Solutions team noted that the employees were totally engaged and interested in the hospital, Lay said.
But as for the records side of the operation, Carpenter said that the team noted that the staff was “working for the HMS system rather than allowing the system to work for them.”
The Healthcare Management System (HMS) is the computer system that contains all the hospital records and data – patient information, billing information and will soon incorporate electronic health records within the system, as well.
“There are things in the system we are not using,” Carpenter said. “Things that would free up our people to do more things that need to be done. There are switches that just need to be turned on.”
A more efficient use of the HMS system would free up employees’ time in the billing office as much as 50 percent.
“Who is going to help us turn on those switches to free up 50 percent of their time?” board president Bob Must asked. “AR (accounts receivable) is clearly a big problem. Revenue Cycles is certainly going to be a help there.”
Days in AR came in at 103 for the second month in a row. That number was 77 in April.
Work will continue in the area of collections and improvements to the billing cycle. In the meantime PMH continues to implement changes where necessary especially in areas affected by emergencies.
The new generator is up and running, Lay told the board.
Radiology and dietary are now under power and plans are in the works to add the hallway to the Rural Health Clinic to generator power, as well, she said.
A new ambulance has been ordered and board member Janet Ghigo recommended that the board consider equipping the new vehicle with automatic cots.
The automatic raising and lowering of patients would “save backs and in turn save on Worker’s Comp claims,” she said.
PMH’s 1984 Ford ambulance, with only 50,375 miles, will be put up for sealed bid.
As a public service Public Relations Special Events Coordinator Susan Wilkins helped design a brochure “Pocahontas Memorial Hospital – Caring for you in nature’s playground,” which will be available at Snowshoe Mountain Resort as well as other tourist locations in the county.
“This is a way to improve visibility and service,” Lay said.
Mosesso offered that the brochure, which includes a map, would be of benefit to family members of the patients who are transported from the ski resort.
Ski season is in full swing and ER visits were up for the month of December. The number of visits was reported at 379, the highest since February of last year. Lay told the board that some of those visits were due to local residents being seen for flu symptoms in addition to transports from Snowshoe.
Lay also reported that eight patients had been transported by helicopter in the week preceding the board meeting, and it was noted that one patient was transported by “fixed wing” aircraft from Greenbrier Valley Airport.
Visits to the PMH Rural Health Clinic totaled 460, the highest number of clinic patients seen in one month since September 2010, and that entity showed a profit for December as it did in November.
The PMH Ambulance service remains in the black year-to-date, as well.
As for in-patients, PMH offers acute care, swing bed, respite and hospice care and those services accounted for 139 patient days for the month, down from 163 in October and 161 in November.
Total patient revenue for the month came in at 1,271,858. Allowing for deductions, the net income for the month of December was $51,417.
PMH will reach out into the community as it improves services by means of the purchase of a portable x-ray machine. The idea is the brainchild of radiology supervisor Cheryl Cain. The machine will be housed at Pocahontas Center in Marlinton, offering the convenience of PMH radiology staff providing x-ray services on site there, rather than transporting center patients to PMH for those tests.
A revision of the board by-laws is in the works, and a Governance Work Plan for the board has been drafted, outlining focus areas, goals, strategies for accomplishment, responsibilities and timelines for each category.
“It’s great to have this written down,” said Ghigo. “This is what we are going to do and this is how or who is going to do it.”
The board meets again February 28 at 6 p.m. in the hospital conference room.
Jaynell Graham may be contacted at jsgraham@poc ahontastimes.com