Texas County Memorial Hospital has submitted financial feasibility data needed for the United States Department of Agriculture to determine if TCMH qualifies for special loan funds to expand the size of the hospital, members of the hospital’s board of trustees heard at their monthly meeting.

The USDA funding, released in 2009 as part of the Economic Recovery Act, is available until September 30. Currently, the interest rate for the USDA loan is 4 percent. If approved, TCMH could obtain low-interest funding to expand the physical size of the hospital creating a new, larger emergency department and private medical surgical patient rooms and to remodel and renovate several hospital departments such as obstetrics, intensive care and surgery.

Linda Pamperien, chief financial officer, was primarily responsible for gathering and submitting the financial data to BKD, LLC, in Springfield, the hospital’s accounting firm. BKD will ensure accuracy of the data and submit it, on behalf of TCMH, to the USDA office for the state of Missouri.

“Our state USDA office will look over the data and application,” explained Wes Murray, chief executive officer at TCMH. “They will need about a week to determine if they approve the application at a state level, and it will be forwarded on to the federal USDA office in Washington, D.C.”

TCMH should know in September if it is approved to receive funding for some or all of the funds needed to expand the size of the hospital.

“I am as eager as anyone else in the county to see where we go from here,” Murray said. He explained that approval from the USDA would be “good and positive news for the hospital and community.”

Hospital officials and board members will determine the course of action for a proposed hospital expansion following word from the USDA.

TCMH embarked on the journey to update the hospital’s existing facilities in 2007 by identifying areas of need. Plans were developed, and bids were sought for the project in 2008 with the intention of utilizing bonds to finance the project.

The financial market collapse in late 2008 made utilizing the traditional bond market unfeasible, and expansion plans were placed on hold. TCMH picked the expansion plans back up in 2009 after the USDA expressed interest in the hospital project.

Recruiting several new physicians to work in the TCMH clinics and hospital, and the addition of a clinic and ambulance base in Mountain Grove aided the hospital data that was submitted. The USDA looks at several years of financial data as well as the long-term growth and service potential of the hospital in determining whether or not to award funding.

In July, the Center for Medicare Services and the Department of Health and Senior Services released an 800-plus page document outlining the government’s definition for “meaningful use” of electronic medical records (EMR) in healthcare facilities. Meaningful use was defined as utilizing electronic medical records in a way that benefits the patient, the facility and payer groups such as Medicare.

Murray also reported that TCMH should receive an incentive payment from the government for achieving meaningful use of EMR in the hospital and clinics.

“It was very important to TCMH that we qualify for this incentive payment for meaningful use. We were one of the first facilities that jumped on board with electronic medical records,” Murray said.

TCMH began the adoption of EMR in 2005 and today, EMR can be found throughout the hospital and its clinics.

According to BKD, TCMH is in line to receive about $3 million from the federal government for the EMR that’s in use in the hospital and clinics.

“Everything we’ve done qualifies for an EMR incentive payment from the government,” Murray said.

The first of several payments is expected to arrive in May 2011.

Technology use at the hospital will continue to grow with the addition of centralized scheduling, an $11,700 computer module capital investment that was unanimously approved by the TCMH board of trustees.

The hospital was notified in June that Medicaid would require pre-certification for almost all outpatient radiological procedures beginning in July. Since the pre-certification process involves more than one person and many departments, the need for a centralized scheduling became imperative.

“Centralized scheduling will expedite the process without inconveniencing the patient,” Pamperien explained when requesting the funds for the computer program.

The centralized scheduling module will work with existing computer software to allow many users to get pre-certification for patient procedures and to schedule those procedures as needed. All outpatient departments such as sleep laboratory, cardiac rehabilitation, physical therapy, laboratory, radiology and surgery can utilize the schedule within their department.

“Everyone can actually view all of the scheduling for outpatient procedures for our patients,” Pamperien explained, “and we can track patients that don’t show up for appointments so we can follow up with the patient.”

Because TCMH has served as a training site for the hospital’s electronic medical records program, the software company agreed to sell the centralized scheduling module to the hospital at half price.

“The bottom line is that this is going to help our patients as well as the hospital,” Murray said.

Members of the hospital’s administrative team and Omanez Fockler, board chairperson, spent a day in July working on the hospital’s strategic plan.

“We began by looking at the hospital’s mission statement, and we will continue the process by looking at each individual hospital department and service line,” Murray said.

Murray, Fockler and members of the administrative team are continuing to study where TCMH is today and where the hospital will be in five to 10 more years, setting goals and outlining plans where needed.

“In the past few years, we have accomplished many things that were part of our strategic plan,” Murray said. “With healthcare reform, we need to be flexible, not knowing exactly how it will affect us.”

Retention and recruiting of physicians continues to be a focus of strategic planning.

“We are a physician driven hospital,” Murray said, “and we need our community to understand that it takes everyone to retain physicians that have been recruited.”

Efforts have been made to promote newly recruited physicians in the community by advertising the new physicians and their specialized services. The new physicians have also participated in some community events.

“Our local physicians need our community to support them by using their services and by welcoming them and their families to our community,” Murray explained. “This is key to their success and to retaining them at TCMH.”

Recruiting efforts for the new TCMH Mountain Grove Clinic continue. One family medicine physician is currently seriously considering an offer from TCMH, and another family medicine physician with ties to the area has planned a site visit to TCMH and Mountain Grove in mid-August.

Murray explained that Russell Huq, MD, the family medicine physician at the TCMH Family Clinic in Licking, has resigned his position effective Sept. 4. Huq has taken a position in Oklahoma.

“We are moving forward despite this setback,” Murray said. “We are working on a plan that will be very satisfactory to our patients in the Licking area.”

In financial news, Pamperien reported continued improvement in hospital inpatient revenues. As of June 2010, TCMH is up by 83 admissions this year in comparison to the end of June 2009. There were 16 patients admitted to the hospital’s long-term recovery program in June.

In June, TCMH posted a positive bottom line of $4,634.85 — lowering the negative year-to-date balance to $25,298.55.

Present at the meeting were Murray; Pamperien; Doretta Todd-Willis, chief nursing officer; Dr. Charles Mueller, chief of staff; Dr. Charlie Rasmussen, vice chief of staff; Joleen Senter Durham, director of public relations; Terri Dreisel, physical therapy director; Rebecca Bahrmasel, physical therapy student; Lance King, physical therapy student; and board members Fockler, Janet Wiseman, Jane Kirkwood and Mark Hampton. Board member Mark Forbes was not present at the meeting.

The next meeting of the TCMH board of trustees is noon Tuesday, Aug. 24, in the hospital’s downstairs meeting room.

 

 

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