PMH Reaping Benefits Of RHC Status
Marlinton, WV – There’s lots of good news from Pocahontas Memorial Hospital lately. The hospital board discussed financial and other issues during its February 22 meeting.
Chief financial officer Chad Carpenter tells the board the hospital is making money and board member Janet Ghigo asks him to repeat his reaction.
“The year to date is now in the positive, $140,180, which is awesome,” he said. “I haven’t said that for awhile.”
“Do you want to say it again?” Ghigo asked.
“It’s awesome,” carpenter replied.
The hospital made $1.4 million dollars during the previous month and spent just $859,000.
Board chairman Dr. Robert Must says he’s surprised with the good numbers, considering the low amount of inpatient days.
“I was surpirsed to see, with just the 151 patient days, we had revenue of $1.4 million,” he said.
Board member Dan Lewis expresses concern that fewer inpatient days, which cost a patient $1,200, could hurt the hospital’s finances.
“It probably is the appropriate level of care, versus an admission that you’re not getting paid, but it may affect the financial picture on down the road,” he said.
Chief executive officer Barbara Lay tells Lewis that PMH doctors will require just a $200 observation visit, when appropriate.
“We’re putting patients in the appropriate level of care,” she said.
“You’re doing more $200 and less $1,200,” Lewis replied.
Lay explains that less patient transfers helps make up the difference.
“We’re keeping more people here, as opposed to transferring them out,” she said.
During her CEO report, Lay tells the board that she is recruiting physicians, including one with Pocahontas County connections.
“We are continuing to work on recruiting physicians,” she said. “Right now, we have three physicians, that we’re currently working with. We have one scheduled to come in for a site visit, next week, and they actually have family from here. So, that’s kind of exciting.”
Lay would not disclose the name of the prospect.
Brightening the picture for PMH is its recent designation as a Rural Health Clinic, or RHC. RHCs are administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The purpose of the RHC program is to improve access to primary medical care in rural areas. RHCs must use a team approach of physicians and mid-level practitioners such as nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and certified nurse midwives to serve patients. The clinic must be staffed at least 50-percent of the time with a midlevel practitioner.
RHCs receive special Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement and may see improved patient flow through the use of mid-level practitioners, as well as more efficient clinic operations.
Rural Health Clinic status allows the hospital to join the National Health Service Corps, under which medical professionals, including doctors, nurses and dentists, can have student loans repaid and receive scholarships while still in school. The board approved an application for the hospital to join the National Health Services Corps.
The board also approved an application to join the West Virginia Primary Care Association, another benefit of RHC status.
Lay says three people deserve special recognition for the hospital’s achievement of RHC status.
“Really, Terry Wagner, she has just done a phenomenal job in taking the leadership,” she said. “She has worked tirelessly to get this affected. Also, Cassie Gunter has worked a lot. Then, we have a wonderful volunteer, Evaline Beverage. One night, we were here until about 11 o’clock, when they were here doing the survey, and she was just right here typing away and has really made a difference. It’s been a good team effort, but Terry was definitely our coach and leader.”
The next meeting of the PMH board is scheduled for April 26, 6 p.m. in the hospital conference room.