Equipment Upgrades Continue at PMC, Additional Recall Forum Proposed

Four equipment upgrades were approved by the Prowers Medical Center Board of Directors, including a new telephone system.  Frontier Telephone was the low bidder for a new phone system at a price not to exceed $50,000.  Frontier’s bid was $45,173, and the company will provide training on the new system for the medical clinic.  Chief Executive Officer Jim Fairchild said the hospital no longer has additional circuitry to allow for any additional phones, and the expanded system will provide for added phones and even allow an automatic rollover to personnel cell phones.  It will also integrate with the new electronic health records and billing system PMC is purchasing.  Additional savings should be noticed on fewer service calls.  A multi-function copier has been purchased from Gobin’s for $15,050.  An obstetric birthing bed, similar to a medical surgical bed, was approved at $16,000.  The hospital has noticed an increase in local births, sometimes as many as four in one recent week, and the hospital has only four designated beds for the OB ward.  $30,000 was approved for bio-med equipment used to analyze and test patient care equipment for proper function and calibration.  The older test units were no longer compatible with the more recent equipment purchases at PMC.  Board chairman Jan Hall presented Fairchild with a $10,000 check from the Rutherford Charitable Trust.   

Interim CFO Audrey Kane has been attending training for finance officers and CEO Fairchild provided a brief update on hospital finances, stating that net operating income for September was $198,951.  Monthly expenses for September were $2,283,250 against budgeted expenses of $1,966,458.  Cash at month end was $5,082,639, a $381,863 drop from the previous month.  This represents 88 days of cash on hand, which is a decrease of seven days from August. 

Additional medical staff will join the hospital in January with the addition of an orthopedist and dermatologist for the Specialty Clinic, and a Family Practice/OB physician will begin practice in February, and replace the vacancy created by the departure of Dr. Seufer.  PMC oncologist Dr. Hedley will leave in December and the hospital has begun to search for a replacement.  CEO Fairchild said cancer patients will have to travel out of the area until a replacement has been brought on board. 

Quorum Health Resources representative Mitch Edgeworth acknowledged the financial growth performance by the hospital and board of directors.  PMC is one of 150 critical access hospitals managed by Quorum, and is ranked 1st in Region 9 in Quorum’s operations area and ranked 5th alongside other QHR hospitals generating similar income.  Board member Marge Campbell asked about the status of the Employee Satisfaction Study which is still pending.  Campbell wanted to know when it could begin and when it would be completed.  The last survey was done in 2004.  Edgeworth said an independent study group should conduct one every two years on average and cost in the neighborhood of $31,000.  CEO Fairchild said he and COO Karen Bryant had been delayed initiating the study, but would start work on it shortly.  Fairchild said an open house would be scheduled for mid-November for the Pulmonary and Cardiac outpatient rehabilitation unit, which will help end out-of-town travel for therapy. 

Doug Harbour, one of the citizens attending the Wednesday meeting asked Board Chairman Hall if another public forum would be scheduled to provide discussion regarding the recall petition against board members Ruedeman and Campbell.  Two meetings have been held, and Harbour believed there were questions that still needed to be put before all five board members if they were willing.  Both Campbell and Ruedeman replied they would attend if one was scheduled.  Hall said it would be up to each member, including himself, Joe Spitz and Gene Cruikshank to decide to attend.  If three or more board members plan to attend, a specific announcement from the hospital board will be required as a majority gathering makes such a meeting official.  Two earlier meetings have been held at the Lamar Community Building, although the second meeting began earlier than announced.

By Russ Baldwin


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