Recruiting physicians to Texas County Memorial Hospital is still a top concern at the county hospital, board members heard at their monthly meeting last week.
Physician recruiting is an important component for feasibility study data that is being collected by U.S. Department of Agriculture. The hospital is seeking USDA funding for a hospital expansion project.
“One physician makes a significant difference on our overall physician numbers,” explained Linda Pamperien, chief financial officer at TCMH.
Pamperien has been collecting financial data and providing it to the USDA for the feasibility study.
The USDA feasibility study takes into consideration many facets of hospital operations, including the hospital’s past financial performance, hospital service lines and current and incoming physicians to the medical staff. Financial projections can be made on future hospital performance based on recruited physicians that will begin working at the hospital in the future.
“The bulk of information has been turned in to the USDA, but they are continuing to request information,” said Wes Murray, chief executive officer. “We hope to have additional positive information to report to them regarding physician recruiting.”
John Paulson, D.O., a family practice physician, has completed his final residency rotation at TCMH during June. He will begin seeing patients full-time at the TCMH Medical Complex in Houston beginning July 26.
Murray noted that some area residents may have already had the opportunity to meet Paulson because he’s done some shifts in the hospital’s emergency room.
Gretchen Price, D.O., an internal medicine physician, has relocated to Houston. She is completing her last month of residency at TCMH in July. Price will begin seeing patients full-time at the TCMH Medical Complex in Houston beginning Aug. 23.
The USDA will look at the entire hospital expansion project, which includes the addition of a new medical surgical wing and emergency department, significant remodeling to the hospital’s intensive care, obstetrics and surgery departments as well as including a possible storm shelter/classroom and meeting space that may be funded with a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant.
“The FEMA storm shelter could be incorporated into the overall building project which would be a great advantage for us,” Murray said.
TCMH continues to search for a full-time physician for the TCMH Mountain Grove Clinic. But Murray reported that the current providers in Mountain Grove – Dr. Michael Moore and Sheri Stofer – continue to pick up new patients at the clinic.
Stofer, a physician assistant and certified diabetic educator, sees patients full-time at the Mountain Grove clinic. Moore, a family practice physician, sees patients two days a week in Mountain Grove. Dr. Charlie Rasmussen, a full-time TCMH obstetrician based at the TCMH Medical Complex in Houston, is also seeing obstetrical patients one day a week in Mountain Grove.
“The patients are very impressed with the Mountain Grove clinic,” Rasmussen told board members. “I have several patients that could see me in Houston or Mountain Grove, but they prefer to see me in Mountain Grove because it’s more convenient for them.”
Rasmussen noted that he’s also receiving several obstetrics referrals from Mountain Grove area physicians who don’t handle obstetrics.
Murray presented data from the ambulance service based in Mountain Grove at the TCMH clinic site.
“Mountain Grove led all of our ambulance bases in May with 27 percent of the total runs,” Murray said, noting that the other bases include transfers as well as primary runs as part of their service.
TCMH has ambulances based in Licking, Houston and Cabool — in addition to the new base in Mountain Grove.
“The growth of our ambulance service in Mountain Grove is a great indicator of the growth and public support we are experiencing in Mountain Grove,” Murray said.
Mike Fuge, a second-year medical student from the University of Missouri, attended the board meeting. Murray introduced him to those present.
Fuge grew up in Mansfield. He’s a participant in the MU Summer Community Program, which places medical students in healthcare practices across the state to gain experience from Missouri healthcare providers. Fuge is at TCMH for six weeks as part of the MU program. He has worked with several TCMH physicians in several different departments.
Murray explained that in addition to Fuge’s time at TCMH, students are also working in the pharmacy and physical therapy departments for the summer.
“These programs are paying off,” Murray said. “They are giving students the opportunity to experience providing healthcare in a rural setting. We hope that someday a student like Mike may decide that rural medicine is where he or she wants to be.”
TCMH has been active in community activities recently, Murray noted.
“We held the Houston Community Health Fair in May, and our staff provided health screenings for over 200 people at the Intercounty Electric Cooperative annual membership meeting in Licking,” Murray said.
TCMH staff will hold a health fair in Cabool in July and Mountain Grove in October. A health fair was held in Roby in April.
Murray explained that TCMH physicians and nurse practitioners provided free or very low-cost sports physicals for more than 250 high school and middle school students in five different communities.
“We are continuing to meet our goal of being very active in the health of the communities in our county,” Murray explained.
The TCMH Healthcare Foundation also recently held its annual golf tournament to raise funds for scholarships for area students pursuing healthcare training.
“The healthcare foundation put on another great event, and they raised $9,300 for scholarships,” Murray said.
At the request of Texas County Commissioner Don Shelhammer, the hospital board and administration discussed a request by the commission and county clerk to cover the cost to elect a hospital board trustee.
As a county owned entity, TCMH is not required to foot the bill for trustee elections, which occur annually in April, if there is more than one person running for the open position. Texas County officials plan to seek state-level intervention to force county entities such as the hospital to pay for election costs.
Board members agreed that Murray would refer the groups to a 2004 letter from hospital legal counsel stating that TCMH is not required to pay for election costs. According to Missouri statute, TCMH is exempt from paying for election cost because it’s a county-owned entity that does not receive any tax funding.
In 2010, election costs for the hospital trustee election were $13,340. In 2004, when the hospital sought legal counsel regarding trustee elections, the cost to TCMH was under $3,000.
May showed improvements in inpatient numbers, Pamperien reported. Inpatient admissions are up by 80 patients for 2010 when compared to 2009.
The hospital had a positive line of $8,215 in May, bringing the negative year-to-date balance up to $29,983.40.
Present at the meeting were Murray; Pamperien; Rasmussen; Fuge; Doretta Todd-Willis, chief nursing officer; Joleen Senter Durham, director of public relations; Dr. Charles Mueller, chief of staff; and board members Omanez Fockler, Janet Wiseman, Jane Kirkwood and Mark Hampton. Board member Mark Forbes was absent.
The next meeting of the TCMH board of trustees is noon Tuesday, July 27, in the downstairs meeting room of the hospital.