PMH board to investigate options
Pocahontas Memorial Hospital board chairman Dr. Bob Must discussed publicly last Tuesday what the board has discussed in executive sessions for months: Strategic Planning.
Must proposed a resolution that acknowledges the hospitalﾒs financial struggles and authorizes the hospitalﾒs CEO to request a collaborative grant for $50,000 to fund a study to determine the ﾓbest alternatives for partnershipsﾔ with Pocahontas Memorial Hospital.
Those alternative partnershipsﾗand grant collaboratorsﾗare with Davis Health Systems and Minnie Hamilton Health System, a Calhoun County-based entity with Federally Qualified Health Center status.
Must said that FQHCs are the ﾓfavored agenciesﾔ for getting health care dollars and that the health care reform bill passed by Congress includes ﾓlots of moneyﾔ for FQHCs, but no new money for critical access hospitals.
PMH doesnﾒt qualify for FQHC status because of its geography, topography and number of doctors per 3,000 people in the county, Must said. Although the hospital administration has applied for waivers, in part because of the number of second homes and the number of visitors to tourist attractions like Snowshoe Mountain Resort, Must said having those waivers granted appeared to be a long shot.
The hospitalﾒs auditors, Arnett and Foster, will study three options:
ﾕcontinuing to operate autonomously, ﾓwhich would be our favorite thing if we could figure out how to make it pay,ﾔ Must said.
ﾕaligning with a larger hospital, Davis Memorial, which could mean as much as $375,000 extra in PMHﾒs coffers. That option ﾓdoesnﾒt look like enough to help our problems,ﾔ Must said.
ﾕcollaborating with a FQHC, Minnie Hamilton Health Systems, which Must said ﾓmight free up federal dollars and improve [the] bottom line.ﾔ
The grant requires a one-to-one match, which can be done with personnel time, according to hospital administrator Don Muhlenthaler. The grant application was due Friday.
ﾓWe donﾒt have a lot of time to waste,ﾔ Muhlenthaler said.
Must said he and Muhlenthaler had visited Minnie Hamilton, which has been able to establish a dental practice, critical care transport ambulance, women and childrenﾒs clinic, nursing and/or physicianﾒs assistant presence in all Calhoun County schools and screening and preventative services.
Calhoun Countyﾒs hospital closed several years ago and the administrators of the Minnie Hamilton Clinic, which already had FQHC status, were able to open the hospital, rehire its staff and expand its services.
Must said he is personally excited about the idea of collaborating with Minnie Hamilton, but feels the board should explore all its options.
The board got its first look at the hospitalﾒs draft budget for 2010-11. Chief Financial Officer Marvina Irvine projects a loss of $4,300, down from the projected $1.6 million loss this year.
Irvine said the hospitalﾒs finances can improve to that degree because of an anticipated 5.5% increase in revenues, along with a 5.7% decrease in expenses, including a 50% cut in overtime for $172,100 and bringing the billing department back to PMH. Purchased services will decrease by $370,000 in this draft, she said. The draft budget does anticipate raises for employees at three percent, plus years of service.
Muhlenthaler said the hospital administration is making steps so that ﾓPMH can break even.ﾔ
Irvine will consult with department heads about the proposed budget. She said she wants to see better monitoring in departments to help curtail expenses.
ﾓWeﾒre going to have to work as a team,ﾔ Irvine said.
Nearly a third of the $1.2 million loss this fiscal year is a non-cash expense, Outside Public Employee Benefits or OPEB, which the hospital and all public entities must book for retired employeesﾒ insurance.
Muhlenthaler said meetings were held last week about how the state will deal with OPEB.
ﾓThereﾒs a political solution and weﾒre part of it,ﾔ he said.
The current financial situation remains about the same, Irvine told the board, with April being a slow month for inpatient revenues; however, she said, contractual adjustments, which the hospital must book for charity or no-pay cases, is down four percent from last year. Irvine said she hopes to have that figure reduced even more by the end of June, the end of the fiscal year.
In other news:
ﾕBoard secretary Cathy Mosesso said the search for a CEO continues and that none of the candidates had yet been offered a job. Muhlenthaler will retire in August.
ﾕPMH has rented Dr. John Sharpﾒs office in Pocahontas Medical Plaza and will move its clinic operations there before July 1.
ﾕThe PMH lab was the first in the country to discover that LabCorpﾒs blood testing operation had errors with thyroid results. PMH is collecting specimens from people whose Health Fair tests were flagged for thyroid. Beginning with tests on May 25, PMH took an extra sample from Health Fair participants to run in-house.
ﾕThe board approved hiring Dr. Jeff McCray and authorized Muhlenthaler to negotiate his contract.
The PMH board will change its meeting schedule for next month and meet on the fifth Tuesday, June 29.