The Texas County Memorial Hospital board of trustees received an updated on the renovation portion of the institution’s construction project during last week’s monthly meeting.

In his administration report, CEO Wes Murray said things are “going well” and few “unknown” problems were uncovered in the demolition portion of the renovation. Construction crews are renovating vacated areas such as the emergency and radiology departments to create new office space and to increase the size of patient care areas, as well as adding more storage space for departments like laboratory, cardiopulmonary and education.

Internally, the TCMH maintenance department is renovating an area near the obstetrics and intensive care unit, building a new space for the hospital’s in-house pharmacy. The current space occupied by the in-house pharmacy will be part of the removal of the south wing to build a tornado safe room and new surgery department.

“Demolition of the south wing will begin on Sept. 9, and we will open bids for the construction of the tornado safe room on Sept. 10,” Murray explained.

Fundraising for the new construction is nearly complete, according to Murray. The TCMH Healthcare Foundation is in the process of selling tax credits that will help fund the remainder of the $3.2 million capital campaign project.

Murray reported that Dr. Joshua Wolfe is already seeing lots of patients in the Licking and Houston clinics, and he’s taking on established and new obstetrical patients.

“Dr. Wolfe is off to a good start, and we are continuing to recruit for a full-time family medicine and obstetrics physician at the TCMH Medical Complex in Houston,” Murray said.

Doretta Todd-Willis, chief nursing officer, reported that a new influenza vaccine policy is in place at TCMH for the 2013 influenza season.

“We are requiring that all TCMH personnel receive the influenza vaccine,” Todd-Willis said, explaining that the new policy echoes Centers for Disease Control recommendations for healthcare workers. In future years, TCMH could be penalized by the Center for Medicare Services if at least 90 percent of employees don’t receive the vaccine.

“This policy is better for the safety of our patients, and we do not want to risk losing some of our reimbursement by non-compliance,” Todd-Willis said.

Inpatient and outpatient revenues at TCMH were down in July. Contractual adjustments for the month were also higher due to a larger number of Medicaid patients and self-pay patients.

Linda Pamperien, chief financial officer, noted that one self-pay patient came in through the emergency department very ill and stayed at TCMH for several weeks.

“The patient wasn’t able to access outpatient care because they didn’t have insurance,” Pamperien said. “When the patient finally came in the ER, they were very sick.”

Pamperien explained that TCMH was able to help the patient get Medicaid to cover some of the hospital bills, but the reimbursement for Medicaid is very low compared to the actual hospital charges accrued by the patient during their stay.

“We’re happy to get the Medicaid reimbursement for that patient, so we are at least reimbursed for something,” Pamperien said.

Omanez Fockler, chairperson of the TCMH board of trustees, remarked on the importance of a community hospital providing care to anyone that needed it.

“The public needs to know about these patients that receive care at TCMH when there is no other care available,” Fockler said.

Board members agreed that such patients drive up the cost of healthcare for everyone.

“Unfortunately, this patient is not a unique challenge for us,” Pamperien said. “Many times, the patients that we take care of here come to us because they have difficulty finding appropriate care.”

TCMH ended the month of July with a negative bottom line of $64,056 and a year-to-date negative balance of $636,121.

Murray reminded board members that TCMH has one year of monthly bond repayment obligations of $80,000 each month that will continue through July 2014.

“We knew we would have these payments going into our new construction,” Murray said, “But they will be done next summer.”

In 2004, TCMH restructured a general bond obligation to save almost $3 million and to reduce repayment time by 11 years.

Present at the meeting were Murray; Pamperien; Todd-Willis; Dr. Schaun Flaim, chief of staff; Joleen Senter Durham, director of public relations; Dr. Charles Mueller; and board members Fockler, Mark Hampton and Dr. Jim Perry, OD. Board members Janet Wiseman and Russell Gaither were absent.

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

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