PMH Votes To Extend Contract With Minnie Hamilton Health Systems
Marlinton, WV – It was approximately 9 months ago that Pocahontas Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees entered into a partnership with Minnie Hamilton Health Systems in hopes of improving the hospitals bottom line. Since then the Board has been so impressed by the improvements brought about as a result of that partnership that they’ve decided to extend it for another three months.
Under the partnership, PMH has found itself in the black for the first time in many years. Board Chairman Dr. Robert Must spoke in favor or continuing their contract until the end of September. He says MHHS doesn’t want to extend the contract beyond that date as they have other projects in the works, and feel that their staff would be over extended were they to continue working with the hospital.
Interim CEO Barbara Lay praised both the MHHS and PMH staffs for working together to improve both the bottom line and staff morale at the hospital. She says extending the contract through September will also get the hospital through another financial audit. She talks about what she’d like to see accomplished before their contract expires.
“To make sure that we have performance improvement in place; that we go ahead with the quality assistance everywhere; that we have a good strategic plan so people know where we’re going and have a plan on how to get there” says Lay. “You know, our billing departments working hard, but it’s been a huge learning curve for them, and we need to make sure that that doesn’t go by the wayside. You know, even if the management agreement stops on September 30th, we’re still here to help even after that.”
Dr. Must says by next month they will also have a plan in place to begin the search for a new CEO for the hospital.
In other business, the Board also approved an agreement with West Virginia Regional Health Information Technology to do an assessment of the hospitals’ electronic record keeping, at no charge to PMH. Dr. Must and Lay explain why this is of critical importance to the hospital.
“The federal government has a deadline that has moved a couple of times already as to when you have to have meaningful use which is not clearly defined yet either” says Dr. Must, “for using electronic medical records. But that time will come that if you’re not on board it can have a dramatic effect on your ability to bill Medicare.”
“There’s an incentive; right now you receive a higher payment from Medicare” says Lay. “Requirements are out there, they started last month; and so they will help fund your electronic medical record if we get in this window.”
Lay also spoke to the Board about a Rural Health Clinic application. She explains why this would be a good fit for PMH.
“In some ways there’s benefits, especially as a hospital based rural clinic; and what it has to do with is reimbursement” she says. “As a provider based rural health clinic we can get our costs for providing clinic services to Medicare and Medicaid patients which are a good portion of our patient population.”
She says this designation doesn’t have quite as many benefits as the federally qualified health center designation, but it also doesn’t have the cap on cost reimbursement required for a FQHC. Lay says she believes PMH will qualify for rural health clinic status because the county has a medically underserved population – specifically low birth weight babies. The clinic, with extended hours, could also mean the difference between an $80.00 office visit and an $800.00 trip to the emergency room. A motion to apply for the rural health clinic was approved.
The PMH Board also welcomed new board member Dan Lewis.