In other action
In other business, the board:
• Approved, 5-0, the Medicare Cost Report from 2007 after Don Hoerl, an independent consultant, reported on the report via conference call.
• Approved, 5-0, to allow for the replacement of a Siemens Arterial Blood Gas machine that is more than 10 years old. The replacement was deemed "medically necessary" by the Joint Conference Committee.
• Approved, 5-0, to contract the services of general surgery and OB/GYN (not including family physicians with obstetrician focus) exclusively by the hospital. They also voted in favor 5-0 of reaffirming that the services of anesthesiology, pathology, radiology and emergency medicine will continue to be exclusively contracted by the hospital.
• Approved, 5-0, to start outsourcing laundry services to Omni Laundry Services of Grand Junction. The new hospital is not designed to have laundry facilities, which according to chief executive officer George Rohrich was done because "the steam required for laundry services would cause another section of infrastructure, which would have been very expensive." Omni also will purchase the equipment currently used by the hospital for laundry and resell them. The outsourcing will not result in personnel reduction for TMH.
• Approved, 5-0, a mid-year budget adjustment to allow for a new OB/GYN.
• Approved, 5-0, to authorize the change in policy allowing for the opening of bids if there are less than three turned in for the pre-construction stages of the new facility. Previously the policy stated that bids wouldn't be accepted unless there were at least three. This allows for the hospital to proceed with the work without having to rebid a job that doesn't receive three bids.
• Approved, 5-0, to allow for the American Health Facilities Development to accept the lowest qualified bid for new facility needs, as specified by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
• Approved, 5-0, to adopt a consent agenda format for future meetings.
Craig Dr. J. Scott Ellis is settling into his new office at The Memorial Hospital as its newest staff member. The obstetrician and gynecologist said he wouldn't mind being the "rookie" for a short period of time.
"I'm supportive of the efforts of this hospital's administration to actively bring in doctors with OB experience," he said. "Right now, as far as the way I see it, it's crucial for the community to have more primary care physicians who are OBs."
At Thursday night's TMH board meeting, the board voted, 5-0, to recruit four to five family or internal medicine physicians to the community. That recruitment will be bolstered by $130,000 in incentives for doctors to move to the community.
"Our immediate need is for more family physicians and internal medicine physicians," said George Rohrich, TMH's chief executive officer. "It is my primary focus to bring our numbers up to improve the quality of life for everybody involved."
According to industry standards, the population of Moffat County has a need for 11 family physicians, Rohrich said. He said there currently are seven, with three of those transitioning away in the coming year.
"There are currently more patient needs than physicians," he said. "I expect that the doctors we bring in will become busy almost right away."
Included in that recruitment is the goal to recruit three family practice physicians with the intention that they will be housed in the Craig Medical Clinic Building and employees of the hospital.
All of the new doctors could have an OB background, which Rohrich said is another pressing need.
"Up until this month, we had two (family physicians who are) OBs, which meant they were on call every other day," Rohrich said. "That is a schedule that is very demanding and few are willing to work that schedule."
The recruitment attempts come on the cusp of two months in which the hospital's in-patient visits for surgeries have been lower than established goals. According to the finance committee report, "surgeries continue to be a tremendous concern, with only 94 in April versus the budgeted number of 109."
More surgeons could be next.
"Another way to improve efficiency will be to increase the availability of surgeons," Rohrich said. "That could happen through recruiting."
Other financial numbers were better than planned with overall ER visits and admissions at 1,955, which is 21 ahead of budgeted. But overall TMH's profit is now $145,000 behind where it was last year.
Two reasons for the lower profits were higher-than-budgeted medical claims from employees and contracted salaries, according to the financial meeting minutes. Chief financial officer Barry Bergman said that the employee claims would decline as the year progresses and the stop loss coverage from insurance takes effect, but the expenses to hire traveling staff could continue to exceed predictions.
Rohrich said the additional expenses for traveling staff are an issue for most hospitals.
Rohrich said there is a shortage for radiology technicians, lab technicians and respiratory technicians. "We are currently advertising nationwide for more techs, and, until then, we are paying extra for traveling techs to fill in the gaps."