TMH seeks $1.2 million in funds

The Memorial Hospital wants 'critical access' status

Becoming a critical access hospital (CAH), results of a recent survey, new equipment purchases and future meeting schedules were top topics during The Memorial Hospital (TMH) October board of trustee meeting Wednesday.

TMH is not considered a CAH. Criteria for that category require a hospital to be 45 miles from another hospital, maximum patient stays of four days, a maximum of 15 inpatients each night and an exemption from outpatient perspective payment system. According to Dr. Larry Kipe, TMH chief of staff, this is unfortunate because TMH could be making more money if considered a CAH.

Regulations state all critical access hospitals are exempt from some fees. For example, Kipe explained the case of a Medicare patient who has pneumonia. In a non-CAH, payment will not differ whether one or 17 days are spent in the hospital. As a CAH, Medicare payments would be received for each day the patient is in the hospital; fees would be paid as regular insurance payments.

There is a bill before Congress to extend the criteria of CAH and this would allow TMH to fit into the criteria and earn the extra funds.

According to TMH Administrator Randy Phelps, this would allow the hospital to earn an extra $1.2 million each year. To help in the process of approving the current bill, Phelps believes the next step will be to get U.S. representatives and senators on board as co-sponsors of these bills, and write to them and ask them to support the changes.

There are a many rural hospital relief bills pending, Phelps said. Third Congressional District Congressman Scott McInnis, R-Colo., supports the current bills.

Results of a survey were made public during the meeting Wednesday. The Quorum Trustee Survey was given to TMH Board of Trustees and survey answers gave TMH a 4.01 rating from five questions. Questions were asked regarding how well Quorum, the management company that employs Phelps and Chief Financial Officer Roger White, was meeting the board's approval.

Question sections in the survey included expectations, the image of Quorum, service and quality, key results on how well has Quorum met goals, on site leadership, regional leadership and the Quorum corporation.

The TMH board approved purchasing a new microscope which will replace and work with the older model in the pathology department. Cost of the new microscope is $5,717.10. Phelps also explained the possibility, and he stressed it was still a proposal, of urologists coming to Craig once a month with a mobile vibration-machine capable of sending waves into a kidney and breaking up kidney stones, allowing the stone to pass naturally.

The possibility of remodeling or replacing the existing TMH building also was brought up and the board will meet with a representative of the Dan Jones company during the week of Nov. 15. Board members will discuss with the representative what they would like to see on a survey to be given to community members. Officials want this survey to tell board members and TMH whether the community will support remodeling or rebuilding.

The board also approved the next two dates of future meetings. They will be held Dec. 1 and Dec. 29, both at 7 p.m. at the hospital.

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