The possibility of a new physician at the hospital was on the agenda of the Fulton County Hospital Board meeting held Dec. 22.
CEO Angela Richmond said the hospital is considering hiring Dr. Evan Wood, OB/GYN, who has a clinic in West Plains, Mo. Dr. Wood would be performing surgeries in the hospital's new surgery room. The possible procedures Dr. Wood could be doing for the hospital are lap assisted vaginal hysterectomies (LAVH), bladder and rectal prolapses, bilateral tubal ligation (BTL), laparoscopy for pelvic pain or ovarian problems, cystoscopy, breast biopsy, D and C or hysterectomies, thermal ablation and cold conization. Richmond said Dr. Wood would come to the hospital "as often as every Friday" to see patients. "He is already working on the paperwork to get his Arkansas license," Richmond said.
According to Richmond, Dr. Michael Camp is planning to open an ultrasound clinic, sometime in February. Richmond met with Dr. Jim Bozeman to discuss the financial impact the clinic would have on the hospital. Richmond said Dr. Camp told her he would continue to send more expensive tests to the hospital but the hospital has yet to receive any tests from him. Richmond said Dr. Camp told her that once the ultrasound clinic is up and running the referral pattern will change. Board chairman, Dr. Griffin Arnold, said from what he's been told, Dr. Camp is planning on putting the clinic in one of the vacant buildings around the courthouse.
The new dictation system was installed and operational the week before the hospital board met, according to hospital staff. Now, doctors and radiologists can pick up any phone and dictate. A computer then records the dictation for a hospital employee to type. Since the system has been operational, the hospital has received 113 reports. Within 24 hours, 86 percent of the dictations were complete and 14 percent were completed in 48 hours. According to Richmond, the new system was funded through the USDA and cost $17,000.
Dec. 19 was when the hospital had to change their imaging service to North Arkansas Radiology Group. The hospital previously did their imaging through Baxter Regional Medical Center. According to Dr. Arnold, Baxter Regional did not offer both day and night imaging services. Baxter Regional only had daytime imaging and Fulton County Hospital had to switch.
"I received a call today that they (BRMC) didn't feel like they were dealt with fairly," board member Jerry Estes said.
"They were dealt with more than fairly," Dr. Arnold said. "We told them what we needed and they said they didn't want to do it."
"That's not what they told me," Estes said.
"What happened was that with the new system we have the freedom now to have 24-7 and the fact that they can't provide it," Richmond said. "If they could have provided us 24-7 we would have stayed with them. We can't afford to lose money on radiology. We can't afford to lose up to $1,200."
The hospital volunteer program has expanded, according to Pam Johnson, the volunteer coordinator. "We now have five full-time volunteers and we will get three more in January," Johnson said. The volunteers do a lot of work around the hospital ranging from cleaning, carrying food trays and greeting people as they enter the hospital. The volunteer program has had several fundraisers to raise money for volunteer logo jackets, according to Johnson. She also said the volunteers would like to raise money for tray warmers, which cost about $4,000. "I'd love to see more of those (volunteer) jackets around the hospital," said Fowlkes. "I know there are people out there that actually, it would be good for them to get out and have something meaningful to do a few hours a week but it will also benefit the hospital."
In the financial report Richmond and the board discussed what to do with the money from the sales tax reserve if the Fulton County Quorum Court agrees to give the hospital the amount they need, which is about $78,000.
Board member Jerry Blevins suggested putting the money in the hospital's line of credit. According to Denice Innis, the hospital's line of credit stands at $175,000.
There was some confusion among the board members as to whether Blevins' idea should be passed as a motion or as a directive. Blevins said he didn't want anything "set in stone" and board member Vicki Fowlkes informed the board that it is harder to overturn a motion in case the hospital decides to do something else with the money in the future.
The board decided to pass it as a motion as a one time process where whatever the bulk sum is from the sales tax would be put towards the hospital's line of credit just for next month. The motion carried unanimously.
Other issues in the financial report are that accounts payable was down by about $18,000 in November compared to October. "The reason this is down is because we really are holding our own, financially, as far as cash this month, because our cash flow was down, but we did a calculation (and we found that) accounts payable is actually only down because our expenses were down this month from last month, and if you do the days in accounts payable, then we are still running 41 days this month and we were running 41 days last month. So, we have 41 days in accounts payable, which is still under the industry average," Richmond said.
In other financial business, the gross revenue from patient services is down from $1,650,830 in October to $1,525,377 in November. Inpatient revenue was down by $88,880 from October and outpatient revenue was down by $95,003 from October as well. Swing-bed revenue was up, however, by $24,223 for November.
Richmond said the hospital needs to make more charitable contributions in December to match at least 1 percent of the hospital's percentage of gross revenue. Richmond said the hospital is receiving more patients who are in need of financial assistance and need charitable care.
The next hospital board meeting is scheduled for Jan. 26 at 7 p.m. in the dining hall at the hospital. The public is welcome to attend.