PMH sees black January
Pocahontas Memorial Hospital's board of directors saw something last Thursday they haven't seen in awhile-positive numbers on the bottom line.
The hospital's financial officer, Chad Carpenter, acknowledged that the change does not exactly signal a reversal of fortunes for the financially ailing healthcare facility, but said bringing the billing department back into the hospital, making sure all charges are "captured" for billing patients and making sure Mountain State Blue Cross/Blue Shield is billed electronically, since the company won't accept bills any other way means the hospital is slowly beginning to see the corner it needs to turn.
"We're starting to see some improvement," Carpenter said. "It's slow; but we're seeing it."
PMH board chair Dr. Robert Must called the trend of capturing all charges "the most hopeful thing" in the financial report.
"[The] increase in daily in-patient charges reflects teamwork by everybody in the hospital, which is a wonderful thing," said Interim PMH administrator Barbara Lay. "It gives me great hope."
The hospital showed a $362,776 surplus for the month and a $40,788 loss for the fiscal year so far.
Lay said she continues to work on having PMH designated a Federally Qualified Health Clinic. Although Pocahontas County's stagnant population compared to number of doctors does not meet FQHC criteria, large influxes of people coming to Snowshoe Mountain Resort often more than double that number.
FQHC designation would mean that the hospital would be reimbursed for 100 percent of its costs for Medicare and Medicaid patients. The impact to the hospital's bottom line would be $160,000, Lay said.
Lay said the administration hopes to increase marketing for the hospital, as well. But part of that effort might not make friends for the hospital.
Carpenter is beginning efforts to have the hospital's bad debts turned over for collection. Those accounts are more than 120 days old and some may be older than a year. Still, he said, the hospital will write off more than $34,000, 82 percent of which is debt from Pocahontas County residents.
The Pocahontas Memorial Hospital Board meets again March 24, at 5:45 p.m. in the hospital boardroom.