New Board Member Dan Lewis Criticizes PMH Management’s Handling Of Hospital Finances

Marlinton, WV – Dan Lewis, newly appointed to the Pocahontas Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees, is highly critical of both the financial situation the hospital is in and the way personnel management is handled. He brought those concerns to the PMH board meeting last Thursday night. Noting that the hospital lost over $220,000.00 in April, due to fewer patients and bad debt write-offs, he accuses Interim CEO Barbara Lay of not properly scrutinizing the number of full time employees at the hospital.

“There’s got to be a hard look at the overall FTE foot print here” says Lewis. “I would assume you would have done that first thing when you walked in the door; maybe you did, and I don’t know about it. I haven’t heard about it and I can’t find any evidence in the minutes that it existed. But that review has to take place because, and I know if this were to go to your place [Minnie Hamilton], that you would probably find some opportunity there, either through attrition, people retire and not replace or job redesign or something. But this FTE Foot Print for this hospital is entirely too large for the amount of money it’s bringing in.”

In response, Lay says they can take a look at staffing costs but that a certain core staff has to be there, whether they have patients or not. There was also a lengthy discussion on the Hospital Management System or HMS. This is a computer based program that processes most of the information for the hospital.

Many of the current employees, including Chief Financial Officer Chad Carpenter are not entirely comfortable with HMS. Lewis and Lay agreed that the initial training was not sufficient and that more is needed. Still, Lewis had harsh words for Carpenter’s performance thus far.

“Your CFO should be able to answer any single question” says Lewis. “If I ask for 3 years worth of data on an Excel spreadsheet so that I can look at historicals, I need to be able to get it. And it should be easily had, and it was not had. I had to come in and look at the minutes.”

“It started whenever he started on Excel” says Lay.

“You can’t tell me that there was no data collected before you got here in September” says Lewis. “I’m not trying to be difficult; I know I am being difficult, I have that side to me. But I’m just saying Chad, you’re the CFO or the acting CFO, if somebody wants work load data going back two years, that should not be task impossible.”

Dr. Must says now that they’ve identified the problem, they just need to figure out how to fix it. He says while the hospital did lose money in April, the Board has to look at the bigger picture.

“Even though the hospital stepped back into the red for the month, and we’re for this year so far, as of April, $138,000 loss for the year, we need to look at that in perspective of how far we’ve come, and that at this time last year we had a 1.2 million dollar loss” says Dr. Must. “We know we’re far from being out of the woods. But there have been a lot of policies put into place that are moving us in a very positive direction. Morale in the hospital is much better.”

To replace the HMS would be cost prohibitive. In the end, the board decided to use a $50,000 technology grant that’s already in hand to help fund a new server that will enable the HMS to be fully functional. They’ll also work on getting more training for the system.

Lay reported that the attempt to attain the Medically Underserved Area status is still pending. This designation will greatly enhance the ability to collect Medicare/Medicaid bills at a higher rate of reimbursement. She suggests that they also attempt to get Rural Health Clinic Status.

RHC will accomplish the same goal in billing but only requires a waiver from the Governor to proceed. The Board concurred and a letter will be sent to the Governor, requesting the waiver.

In other action, the Board approved the following:

To advertise for a new permanent Chief Executive Officer for the hospital

A performance improvement plan for the Board of Trustees

To submit a grant request to fund a new telephone system for the hospital

To ask the Pocahontas County Commission for additional funding to support the hospitals ambulance service

And to write off $12,000.00 in uncollectable debt.

Story By

Heather Niday

Heather is our Program Director and Traffic Manager. She started with Allegheny Mountain Radio as a volunteer deejay. She then joined the AMR staff in February of 2007. Heather grew up in the Richmond, Virginia, area and now lives in Arbovale, West Virginia with her husband Chuck. Heather is a wonderful flute player, and choir director for Arbovale UMC. You can hear Heather along with Chuck on Tuesday nights from 6 to 8pm as they host two hours of jazz on Something Different.

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