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Friday, May 6, 2016

OMC begins day to day operations at Fulton County Hospital

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Swing Bed Unit nurse Chrystal Goodson introduces herself to Kim Thompson, the interim administrator at the Fulton County Hospital. Thompson, an Ozark Medical Center executive, will serve for 60 days as OMC and the county finalize a three year management contract and OMC seeks a permanent administrator. Thompson began work on Oct. 24, and00 believes OMC can "do a lot of good," as it works to ease the hospital's financial problems. Photo by Richard Irby
On Monday, Oct. 24, Ozarks Medical Center began the first day of what should develop into a long term relationship managing the Fulton County Hospital.

Kim Thompson, an OMC financial executive, was on the job, beginning a 60-day stint as interim administrator. During the 60-day period, OMC and county government will work to finalize a three year lease agreement, and OMC will search for a permanent administrator.

Before her first day on the job, Thompson came to the hospital on Thursday, Oct. 20, for a "meet and greet" with hospital department heads and employees.

What are Thompson's first impressions?

"I have learned that there are a lot of hard working people here, and this is a nice facility," said Thompson, standing in the swing bed area of the hospital.

Has she seen anything that would lead her to question OMC's decision to manage the hospital, and try to solve its financial problems?

"Not at all," Thompson replied. "I think we can do a lot of good here. There are efficiencies and processes we can offer to help the hospital cut expenses and improve operations."

Thomson had company on her first day at the helm. OMC's pharmacy and plant management directors were at the hospital, looking at facilities and systems currently in place, and making suggestions to improve operations. Thompson expressed confidence OMC can help cut pharmacy spending, through the use of 340D, a federal program which offers drug discounts to hospitals.

Thompson said other OMC executives will be dropping in as time goes on.

Thompson's day included an appearance at the regular meeting of the Fulton County Board of Governors.

After two months of frequent meetings with big decisions to make, the October regular meeting was a little more subdued - a hopeful sign the board can begin moving away from constant "crisis management."

The board has submitted requested financial information and is still waiting for USDA approval to sell its home health care license to the LHC Group for $1.7 million. The USDA has a say in the sale, because it must insure that it will continue to receive payments on a $5 million construction loan.

While it waits for the $1.7 million sale to be completed, money remains tight. The hospital owes vendors $464,000, about $88,000 less than last month's total accounts payable.

The hospital is seeking a low interest $250,000 loan from White River Development and Planning, to provide short-term cash to keep the hospital operating.

In other business, the board authorized John Sontag, the hospital's safety officer and emergency manager, to apply for a $150,000 Community Enhancement Grant to install a security system for the hospital. The system would allow the hospital to control access to the pharmacy and other sensitive areas, and better monitor who is coming and going from the hospital.

During the meeting, the board spent quite a bit of time discussing whether there is still need for a Sustainability Plan.

In September, Tommy Barnhart of Dixon Hughes, the hospital's accounting firm, told the board that it needed to develop a plan to show it would be able to deal with its debt problems and the need for capital to get through the fiscal year.

Without a plan, Barnhart said the hospital's annual audit results would include a "going concern opinion," that the accountants were not sure that, considering its financial problems, the hospital would have enough capital to survive this fiscal year.

At the Oct. meeting, board members were told that Dixon Hughes will not consider $1.7 million in expected revenue a sustainability plan.

Some board members expressed dissatisfaction with the company's service.

Interim administrator Thompson volunteered to initiate further conversations with Dixon Hughes to try to resolve the issue, so that the annual audit can be completed.

New board member John Ed Welch, who is an accountant, said a "going concern opinion" is "not something you want, but is not the end of the world." According to Welch, other companies facing financial problems, particularly in the health care field, continue on, despite questions about their ability to survive.

The board continued to express confidence it will receive the $1.7 million in December, pay debts and, through OMC's management assistance, continue to serve the community.

One board member told The News a recent increase in patient admissions has been encouraging.

Over the last two weeks of October, the in-patient wing has been busier, at or near capacity with 20 to 23 patients.

OMC has indicated it plans a marketing campaign to emphasize its involvement with the Fulton County Hospital, in an effort to improve the hospital's image and attract more patients.

The hospital board's next regular meeting is scheduled for Nov. 28, in the facility's conference room.

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