TMH board concerned about revenue

In November, The Memorial Hospital (TMH) Board of Trustees completed a self-evaluation survey and results of the survey showed negative and positive issues for the Trustees.

"The key issues are straightforward the financial performance of the organization," Phelps said. "The board is concerned that in the last two years, the hospital has not met budget."

Unaudited budget numbers as of Nov. 30, 1999, show that TMH has a year-to-date net income of $196,915. TMH budgeted to have a net income of $593,323 by the end of November, a difference of $396,408.

"Justifiably, the board agreed to work with management to see what could be done better," Phelps said.

TMH is also working to create an alternative line of business to combat revenue loss.

According to Phelps, alternative programs include lithotripsy, for treatment of area residents with renal stone disease, and sleep research.

Hiring an obstetrician/gynecologist will also be "tremendously beneficial," Phelps said.

TMH had been pursuing recognition of being a critical access hospital (CAH). Becoming a CAH would mean $1.2 million in additional funding for the hospital, but it would also mean making compromises.

A point brought up by Phelps in terms of a CAH was that only 15 patients are allowed to be in a CAH at one time. In the last year, TMH would have exceeded this number at least 40 times. Having to turn away patients would not make physicians happy, Phelps said.

The continuing battle of Medicare and rural hospitals in terms of revenue will also make a difference in coming years.

"We are actually lobbying to help our revenue side," Phelps said.

Medicare reimbursement rates have been under scrutiny by rural hospitals. Hospitals such as TMH have teamed up and lobbied intensively, stressing the need for a change in the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, which brought Medicare hardships to where they are today.

This message was heard on Capitol Hill and Phelps believes TMH will see results by 2001.

Other areas where some board members disagreed was the way the Board of Trustees has represented the hospital in the political arena and the lack of discussion between potential board members and Moffat County Commissioners before trustees were invited to serve on the board.

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