The Fulton County Hospital Board held their monthly meeting Oct. 27. During the meeting, the board discussed hospital improvements and better ways to serve patients.
Angela Richmond, chief executive officer, asked the board for permission to fill out paperwork for the possibility of the hospital getting a rural health clinic. Richmond said she met with people who can get the health clinic up and running. She said the people who can get the rural health clinic at the hospital told her they would require the hospital to pay them $5 to $7 per visit once the clinic is open. Richmond said the hospital already has space for the clinic.
"(The rural health clinic) would be a good deal if we can find the staff," Dr. Griffin Arnold, chairman of the board said.
The board decided to look at the proposed contract and do more research on rural health clinics before carrying through with the paperwork.
The ever plunging economy is affecting everyone including hospitals and health care facilities. Richmond read from a Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) release that read that due to the financial crisis, people are skipping out on vaccines, doctor's visits and treatments, which can lead to future expensive diseases and chronic conditions. Potential patients are putting off preventive medicine which can lead to more costly procedures and treatments. "Those with nonemergency ailments will put off treatment," Richmond said.
In light of the financial crisis, Stephanie Pierce, of the business office, presented a payment policy to the board in hopes that it will make payments more affordable to patients on a fixed income. The policy is also supposed to make finances easier on the hospital by providing payment information for all patients with all types of incomes and in different circumstances, such as workers compensation and motor vehicle accidents. The board made some slight changes to the proposal and approved it. The board also agreed that those who work in admissions should be trained to explain the payment plans to patients as they come in.
Dr. Arnold expressed his concern about room for expanding the physical therapy department. "I feel like we need to give them room to expand," Dr. Arnold said.
Lance Gross, the director of the physical therapy department, gave a presentation on marketing the department during last month's board meeting. He said the department currently works in three hospital rooms and a hallway that is separated with a curtain. The physical therapy also has to share space with the cardiac department.
During this month's meeting, Dr. Arnold suggested that the physical therapy department use the recovery rooms, which he thought weren't being used on a regular basis. Richmond corrected him and said that the rooms were being used for scope procedures.
Tony Caudel, hospital maintenance, said the construction crew is trying to open up an area for the physical therapy department. "(The PT department) is at the top of the list (for improvements)," Caudel said.
The board will continue to investigate possible areas in the hospital to relocate the PT department.
Dr. Arnold brought up his concerns about the broken panels that monitor levels in the nitrous oxide and oxygen tanks. He said the lights on them keep flashing, which tells them that the levels are low when they're actually not.
"We're trying to get someone to fix it," Caudel said. He said Mechanical Plant Services (MPS), who installed the panels, is being uncooperative. Board member Jerry Blevins suggested calling the bonding company if MPS does not cooperate. The board agreed that the panels need to be fixed.
The hospital's new Director of Nursing, Leslie Batterton, has had several people give her compliments on her good work since she has been employed. "Leslie's doing a great job, and we really appreciate her," Richmond said.
"I'm really glad Leslie came on board," Dr. Arnold said. He said sometimes when he came to the hospital it was "a nightmare." "Now, it's much better," Dr. Arnold said.
Batterton was at the board meeting and told the board that she has hired extra staff. She said she has noticed better teamwork at the hospital. "I feel that the level of care is better," Batterton said.
Batterton informed the board that she is trying to work with Pam Johnson in getting more volunteers from the community to help out around the hospital.
In the financial statement, Richmond said things are going well. Richmond said the cash flow for September went up about $20,000 from August, and the county sales tax reserve went up about $15,000.
According to patient revenue, inpatient, swingbed and outpatient revenue are all up from last year. Inpatient revenue gained about $300,000. Swingbed revenue went up about $145,000 and outpatient revenue gained about $500,000. "It's been a good month for revenue," Richmond said.
After the board discussed all that was on the agenda, they went into a closed session to discuss individual salaries and raises.
The next hospital board meeting will be held Nov. 24 at 7 p.m. in Dining Room B. The public is welcome to attend.