PMH sees financial improvement
The county-owned Pocahontas Memorial Hospital isn't out of the financial woods yet, but the financial picture did show a slight improvement in spite of the fact the patient census was low for the first two weeks of November.
Expenses stayed in line, according to the hospital's chief financial officer, Chad Carpenter; however, low patient census contributed to a decrease in revenue for the acute care portion of the hospital's income. PMH Medical Clinic, which averaged 29 patients per day in November, had increased revenues and Our Ambulance Service lost money for the month.
According to the hospital's interim administrator, Barbara Lay, the swing bed program has picked up and cash receipts were "good" for November. The hospital has all of its $300,000 credit limit available and vendors are paid, Lay said.
Lay said some of the staff was sent home when the patient census at the hospital was low and some were reassigned to other areas. Staff members gave up some of their own vacation time to pay for lost income, as well.
Sending staff home is not generally well-received, said director of nursing Stephanie Alexander.
Board member Cathy Mosesso said she hoped that when staff is sent home they are reminded that they are playing an important role in the hospital's overall financial health.
"Can people appreciate they're playing a part in the bottom line not being a disaster?" Mosesso asked.
PMH will become a part of the Partners in Health program, which costs some money up front, but allows the hospital access to a $15,000 grant immediately. Lay said the money could be used for community outreach programs such as the health fairs. The pediatric health fair alone costs more than the $3,100 fee to be a member, she continued.
Lay said PMH qualified for a 50 percent discount because of its affiliation with Minnie Hamilton Health Systems, but the bill had come for half that amount.
"They should know how to figure that," Lay said. "I'm going to go with it."
Partners in Health will accept monthly payments for the annual fee.
A fair number of healthcare providers, including PMH's partner, Minnie Hamilton Health Systems, are members of Partners in Health.
MHHS joined in November and has already seen proof of the benefits, using Partners in Health to recruit a pediatrician who will begin there in February.
Lay's business plan for PMH is still in the working stages. She told board members she needs more information from them and from department heads before solidifying a working plan for the hospital.
She said she would rather be a little late with a good plan than to present one without the necessary information.
"I'm working on it," Lay said. "It's our job to give you the tool and [for] you to have the tool to make good decisions."
The board also discussed becoming a member of the Pocahontas County Chamber of Commerce so that
the facility could be included on the upcoming brochure the chamber is producing.
Board member Janet Ghigo said the board should find ways to market the hospital, including advertising on the local radio station.
"I couldn't exist as a business without advertising," Mosesso said. "Even in down times, it's probably more important than some other things."
The board went into executive session on a legal matter. Board president Robert Must said he didn't anticipate any action when the board returned to open session.
PMH's board of directors meets again in regular session January 27.