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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Hospital Board to implement ambulance fee

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Jody Shackelford

Staff Writer

The Fulton County Hospital Board met April 28 and plans are in the works for the hospital to receive some new hardware to go along with its face lift.

The hospital is looking to install a new voice and data system that Philip Hughes, Fulton County Hospital's chief information officer, said will take the hospital into the future. "It is not just a phone system," Hughes said.

The new system will allow the hospital to upgrade to electronic medical records storage and end the need for a high number of costly phone lines.

The Fulton County Ambulance Service will soon charge a $25 fee for going to a person's aid. Officials said often the ambulance will receive a call and use gas, time and medical supplies to help a person and then the individual will refuse the ambulance ride. This leaves the service with a deficit in the materials used and the $25 will go to cover those losses.

The Fulton County Hospital is hoping to increase profits, decrease cost and provide better service to the community through the Swing Bed program.

According to Fulton County Hospital Board documents, a swing bed is a type of hospital stay where the hospital can receive payment for a longer period of time at a positive rate.

At a point in a patient's stay they are discharged and sent home, but often a longer hospital stay would be a benefit to the patient. The swing bed program allows those patients to receive extended care and the hospital has one less empty bed generating zero income for the hospital.

The program also allows people to stay close to home without having to spend extended time in non-community hospitals and also allows for increased family involvement and support.

With the hospital focusing on this program they will have the opportunity to identify patient needs to assure a safe and sustainable return home and more time to build a solid post-discharge plan.

The substantiality of the hospital to be able to provide positive care rests in the red and the black.

According to documents, the financial incentive's substantial. More volume in bed use will reduce the average cost per unit-of-service by spreading the high fixed cost over more patients.

A benefit discussed at the April 28 Fulton County Hospital Board meeting is a more consistent workload for the nursing staff as well as less fear of layoffs.

"With the critical access hospital swing bed program's payment methodology; it is like getting paid acute rate for skilled level of care," a document said. "Payment for bed utilization equates to more than an empty bed."

To qualify for a swing bed program stay a person must be enrolled in Medicare Part A, have available days to use, must stay three nights in a acute care hospital and have skilled needs.

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