Hospital Board doesn't like first look at proposal
Fulton County Hospital Board members gave an overwhelming thumbs down Nov. 26 to the first set of proposal terms submitted by Baxter Regional Medical Center concerning a possible agreement to lease the Fulton County Hospital. Board Chairman Barry Aldridge told the members he would contact BRMC about the problems with the first set of terms.
Also discussed at the two-hour meeting attended by approximately 50 area residents, was the numbers, prepared by Hughes, Welch and Milligan accountants, showing areas that must be improved to get the hospital operating in the black. Bill Couch and John Ed Welch told board members that the number one reason the hospital is in financial trouble is the amount of bad debt the hospital is unable to collect from patients who use the hospital's services.
Welch and Couch also discussed the Fulton County Ambulance services operated as part of the hospital and pointed out the loss the hospital occurs each month from this service. The possibility of the county resuming the operation of the ambulance service was voiced as a way of halting this drain on revenue as well as the possibility of a private ambulance service taking over the ambulance operation. Both the county and a private ambulance service would be able to charge more for these services than the hospital is allowed to. Barry told the board this was an issue that needed to be researched further and that action on this issue needed to be made in the near future. Welch and Couch were asked to come up with some predicted numbers concerning the revenue the ambulance service could bring in if operated by the county.
Welch and Couch said the greatest need the hospital has is a way to increase revenue in order to meet the debt service of the hospital.One suggestion was an increase in the number of doctors using the hospital.
The board approved the credentials for Dr. Jeff Summerhill, D.O., as an active physician at the hospital. Summerhill was licensed in 2001 as a family practitioner, and is trained in EGD and colonoscopy. Summerhill is working as a temporary emergency room physician. A commitment by Summerhill as to whether he will become a permanent physician for the hospital is expected by January 1. In addition to clinic days Summerhill would continue as an ER physician, according to Dr. Jim Bozeman.
The board said the financial report for the hospital showed an increase in revenue for the past month, due in part to a shorter billing cycle being implemented. Changes made in the past few months has allowed the hospital to pay its bills and meet the payroll without having to borrow from a line of credit set up at The Bank of Salem. A small decrease in the credit amount the hospital has already used was also possible this past month.
The board was presented with a resume from someone interested in the hospital administrator position. The board agreed to set up an interview with the individual.
From the editor: Because of press deadlines, we were only able to report a brief summary of items discussed at the meeting this week. We will publish a detailed report of the meeting in next week's paper. -eh