Pocahontas Memorial Hospital Board Scrutinizes Expenses

Marlinton, WV – As Pocahontas Memorial Hospital continues to hemorrhage cash, board members carefully scrutinized several financial items at their regular meeting on Tuesday. Chief Financial Officer Marvina Irvine reported that the hospital is currently $1,097,000 in the red for the fiscal year.

So it’s understandable that some board members cringed when Hospital President Don Muhlenthaler informed them that the quote for this year’s financial audit, by Arnett and Foster, came in at $29,000. Arnett and Foster provides audits for 16 of the state’s 18 critical access hospitals, says Muhlenthaler. The firm has done the audit for PMH since 2005. Previous to that, the board did not pursue a certified audit. However, Muhlenthaler says that this level of auditing is now necessary because of the hospitals status as a critical access center. In the end, the board unanimously approved to move forward with Arnett and Foster.

Board members are also weighing the costs and potential benefits of providing MRI services at the hospital. To get in the business would initially cost the hospital approximately $10,000 in electrical upgrades and other costs. It then costs around $350 a day to have the company that provides the MRIs bring the truck with their equipment to the hospital. The hospital would likely offer these services one day a week. Muhlenthaler says he contacted other hospitals that are providing similar access to MRIs, and they generally take in about a dozen MRI patients each day the service is available.

Chief Nursing Officer Kyna Moore says that most of the referrals that come out of the PMH clinic are for patients who need MRIs. Additionally, many of the hospital’s ambulance transfers are for patients who receive MRIs. Chief of Medical Staff Dr. James Jarret said MRIs are becoming standard procedure for examining knee, shoulder and other soft-tissue injuries that are commonly seen at the hospital during ski season.

While it could be a potential money maker for the hospital, board members said they wanted to see more firm numbers from Moore and Muhlenthaler on current referrals and transports and what potential revenue could be generated before approving such a venture.

The board is also carefully evaluating the potential cost savings of leasing the former office of Dr. John Sharp, consolidating the clinic space in Marlinton and at the former office of Dr. Walkup. Sharp is currently serving a sentence in federal prison for medical billing fraud. While Dr. Jarrett said he and other staff have concerns about how the hospital could be perceived operating the clinic out of the office that housed Dr. Sharp’s practice, the board authorized Muhlenthaler to enter into negotiations over the space with Dr. Sharp’s representative. Board members added some conditions to the negotiations however: The lease must cover the entire building, Dr. Sharp’s medical records must be moved from the building, past utility bills should be made available to the board, and the term of the lease should be at least 5 years.

In other matters, the board is also continuing its search for a new CEO. The application deadline is in early March, but search committee member Kathy Mossesso says more than 70 people have applied for the position so far. While about 30 of those are currently in the running, Mosesso says she and the rest of the committee are working on narrowing the field further.

Tuesday’s meeting concluded with an executive session concerning a legal issues report from Mulenthaler.

For Allegheny Mountain Radio News, I’m Drew Tanner.

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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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