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News Bulletin: Fulton County Hospital Administrator dismissed as financial problems increase

Wednesday, August 10, 2011 ~ Updated 2:02 PM

Members of the Fulton County Hospital Board met with department heads on Wednesday, August 10 to inform them that hospital administrator Joe Hammond had been terminated and emergency steps, including job cuts, will be needed to address major financial problems. Board President Jerry Estes told employees the situation is serious but, "This board is dedicated to the continued operation of this hospital."
At a special meeting of the Fulton County Hospital Board on Tuesday, August 9, the Board dismissed administrator Joe Hammond and discussed job cuts and other steps to deal with mounting debt.

In the Fiscal Year which ended June 30, the hospital lost $1.3 million.

Last week, the hospital did not have enough money on hand to make its payroll, until it received a sales tax advance from the county.

According to board member Bill Pace, $700,000 in hospital debt is 90 days past due.

"The financial reputation of the hospital is ruined," Pace said, as the board discussed financial problems. "Those bills should have been kept on 30 days (payment). You've done that (delayed debt payments) to make those payrolls we didn't need and you made those local vendors suffer for it."

Board member Danny Perryman, who also supported dismissing Hammond, said, "I have supported and tried to support Mr. Hammond. As direct as we could, (we tried to) tell him we had to cut payrolls, we had to cut expenses; something had to be done. He has absolutely defied us in that."

The board met with hospital department heads on Wednesday, August 10, to inform them of Hammond's dismissal and ask for them to recommend what staff reductions and cuts they can make to reduce other expenses.

As the board tries to address its financial problems, it also voted to make contacts with other hospitals in the area, concerning possible "partnerships."

Board member Sue Hertzog told fellow members, "We've tried everything and we're still in trouble. I think our only choice is to go with another hospital, myself."

Board members believe the Ozarks Medical Center in West Plains or the Baxter Regional Medical Center may be interested, but members would want to lease the hospital to a partner, with the board retaining some input on operations.

Board President Jerry Estes told department heads, "Fulton County Hospital is not just shutting its doors. This board is dedicated to the continued operation of this hospital."

At its August 22 meeting, the board will discuss staff and expense cuts needed to keep the hospital running in the short term.

In recent days, the hospital has reduced its payroll by eliminating at least six full-time positions and one part-time position.

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Here is an Idea, How about collecting all the money you bill out and not spending money you dont have.Maybe if you negotiate with some of those uninsured like you do the insurance companies you would get some "dead" money on old debts. How about billing fairley and forget the inflated greed and people would be happy to pay their bill. GOOD JOB REMOVING HAMMOND Now find someone who truly is interested in doing a good job. Stay independant, you dont need life support you need good sense.

-- Posted by Basser on Thu, Aug 11, 2011, at 11:25 AM

It is a great thing that the administrator has finally been relieved of his position. He has been deceptive in his handling of the finances as well as many other areas of his position for a long time. It's too bad it took so long to do something about this when the hospital has just been continually on the brink of closing its doors. It would be a good thing for the board to meet periodically with the department heads to learn what is really happening with the workings of the hospital. There are many hard working, good employees at our local hospital. Hopefully, the board and the employees can work together to move this hospital forward.

-- Posted by Confederate Rose on Fri, Aug 12, 2011, at 8:39 AM

Heres a novel idea why doesnt the board investigate where this money was lost was it unpayed charges or denied charges for unecessary testing is it because charts are not being documented properly or signed off on by Dr.s or heaven forbid could it be a combination of all the above. Do local physicans use the hospital for a reference lab as they do at other hospitals or are they sending them to another lab. Why are ABN's being ignored in the ER these are just some ideas from an employee who wonders why every administrator is let go for money reasons and never is the problem investigated

-- Posted by concernedemployee on Mon, Aug 15, 2011, at 10:52 AM

FCH is a business. So the next administrator needs to have a master's in hospital administration or an MBA. And why isn't the hospitals accounting firm at every board meeting? Do ALL the board members understand how the hospital gets it's revenue? Are all the charges put in in a timely manner? Are all the MDs getting their charts done in a timely manner so charges can be submitted. Is the hospital collecting anything from uninsured? Is the staff ever involved or asked about ways to save money? Why isn't every MD in town using FCH lab for testing and scopes? Lots of unanswered questions to load all onto one person.

-- Posted by Mawmaw20 on Mon, Aug 15, 2011, at 12:47 PM

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