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by Brenda Grose
A report on several new practice improvements taking place in the Emergency Department, no insurance increases for covered employees after health insurance plan renewal meeting and the addition of new pediatrician, Tabitha Wilson, MD, were all highlights of discussion at the regular monthly board meeting of the Ringgold County Hospital board of trustees held Monday, June 17.
RCH administrator Gordon Winkler led his administrative report with new things happening in the Emergency Department under the leadership of Dr. Angela Kerchner, MD. Dr. Kerchner and staff are working to develop the ambulance and emergency room staff as a cohesive unit in taking part in a new state required program for prescription management. Hospital/Clinic employees are required to check a state database that tracks opioid use and is intended to control use of opioids. This program allows physicians access to prior healthcare facility visits by patients to ensure managed prescribing of opioids and to prevent “facility jumping” that could result in overuse or abuse of opioids. RCH’s emergency department staff is also at work establishing new protocols in emergency situations to determine who is responsible for checking the state database and that the responsible person is a certified health professional. The rule for implementing use of this new program goes into effect July 1.
Dr. Kerchner is also working toward a goal of paramedic certification skills for all RNs working in the emergency department. The goal is to extend ability to provide a higher level of care. Four RNs have already taken and passed the certification classes. Additionally as part of upgrading paramedic level skills for emergency department nurses, Dr. Kerchner, Dr. Patricia Fasbender, DO and Dr. Haroon Ferhut, MD are teaching skills in working with seizure care and use of additional medications for seizures.
Additionally Winkler reported Dr. Kerchner is involved in discussion with Decatur County Hospital to explore the possibility of staff sharing between facilities to provide more flexibility and coverage by utilizing staff from both facilities.
Winkler also had good news regarding employee health insurance coverage. After a recent meeting with Wellmark representatives, RCH’s health insurance provider, it was determined RCH will see only a slight increase in the self funded health insurance plan costs. Most costs are attributed to the plan’s stop loss rate and standard administrative costs and fee increases. Winkler made a recommendation of no increase in employee contributions toward their insurance coverage stating the renewal premium cost will increase by 8 percent which breaks down to $8 for a single covered employee and $22 for family insurance coverage. RCH will pick up the additional approximate $41,000 in premium increases.
Rounding out the good news, Dr. Tabitha Wilson, pediatric, MD was accepted to the staff of RCH/MAMC and will begin seeing patients, August 12. Dr. Wilson is currently obtaining her final credentials for the August start date.
On the financial side, Missy Walters reported a “very good” month in May, although revenue for the month was under budget by close to $180,000. Receipt of long anticipated Medicare funds of approximately $465,000 did help paint a brighter picture as well as recent Mercy network cost allocations of approximately $200,000. Walters stated the bottom line for RCH was $393,000 to the good; however, settling the accounting of money owed to RCH from Shopko, Inc. through the 340B program resulted in a $306,000 write off. Ringgold County Hospital was partnered with Shopko, Inc in the pharmacy 340B program and Shopko’s recent bankruptcy filing resulted in the write off which is unlikely to be recouped, although RCH did make claim for payment through the bankruptcy proceedings.
One miscellaneous item was an update on continued work to meet required pharmacy modifications. Hospital representatives have been in contact regarding application for the extended deadline and information indicates the proposed extension RCH will seek will be allowed, with the deadline extended a possible maximum of 18 months. The remodel design is in progress and staff are working with the architectural team to spread the project costs over two fiscal years as discussed at the RCH board meeting in May.
The board accepted the recommendation of the Finance Committee to enter into a three-year management service agreement with Mercy One.