PMC Continues Technology Update

A $2 million appropriation limit on capital improvement purchases for conversion to an electronic health record system was recently approved by Prowers Medical Center Board of Directors.  They voted to apply $1,350,000 of that for the conversion during their monthly meeting, January 25.  A $90,000 expenditure was approved for purchase of twelve electronic medication carts used to dispense medicines to patients in a more efficient and safe manner.  The computerized cart will interface with PMC’s pharmacy to track the daily use of drugs given to a patient during their stay at the hospital.  It will update a patient’s medical records, send information to the billing department and help ensure that the correct dosage is being given.  The new equipment will also reduce the number of interruptions a nurse may encounter during their duties.   

PMC Chief Executive Officer, James Fairchild explained that the electronic health record system is federally mandated to be in place for all medical providers by the end of 2014.  Eight companies have answered Requests for Proposals for the equipment upgrades and Fairchild said the two best options will be reviewed by the board.  Board member and Registered Nurse, Marge Campbell said the private ambulance company she works for, as small as it is, must also comply with the 2014 mandated upgrade for their operation.  The computerized system will be customized to interface with similar systems that will be used by the medical providers in Prowers County by the deadline. 

Mike Bryant, director of the PMC Foundation informed the board that Clay Whitham, president of Frontier Bank had been approved as the latest Foundation Board member.  PMC board chairman, Jan Hall, stated the hospital had received $3,500 from the Weitgenant Trust, established by Virginia Tefertiller in memory of her mother and father, longtime Lamar residents.  The donation was directed to be used to benefit area youth, and CEO Fairchild said a pediatric exam table will be purchased with the funds. 

Interim Chief Financial Officer Audrey Kane reported a downturn in hospital finances for November and December.  PMC had a net loss of $111,238 in November and $129,773 for December.  Net patient revenues for both months fell below budgeted expectations.  The number of days ‘cash on hand’ for the hospital also declined for those periods.  November showed 85 days cash on hand and December figures were at 79 days.  That represents the amount of time the hospital could operate without any direct income.  The situation was addressed by board member Gene Cruikshank who said that in light of the financial gains the hospital had made over the past several years, the board needed to be mindful of the drop and take steps to ensure the hospital stays financially healthy.  All board members concurred.  CEO Fairchild said he too, was aware, but the drop was not unexpected due to the equipment upgrades the hospital required to provide medical care to the community.  He said that the expenditures the board approved would be spread over several years to lessen the financial impact and added that a three year projection of capital expenditures would be helpful to maintain a record of expenses versus future revenues. 

Board member Campbell asked, regarding the February 7 recall election, if PMC could track if all ballots had been mailed and received by eligible voters.  She noted that some people have still not received theirs.  Audrey Kane, the recall election official said the ballots are out, but may still be in the process of being delivered.  If anyone has a question regarding the mailing of their ballots, they should contact the hospital at 336-4343 and ask for Audrey Kane or Mike Bryant.  The next PMC board meeting will be held February 22.

By Russ Baldwin 

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