The Memorial Hospital seeing more patients | CraigDailyPress.com

The Memorial Hospital seeing more patients

Nicole Inglis

The Memorial Hospital has admitted 30 percent more patients in 2010 than at the same time last year, according to TMH Chief Financial Officer Bryan Chalmers' monthly report.

The busy month of February also produced a net income of $208,000 and a gain of $83,000 in operations, which Chalmers and TMH Chief Executive Officer George Rohrich hailed as a positive, significant increase.

However, the volume increase did not go unnoticed in the hallways of TMH.

Chief of staff Larry Kipe said he has heard feedback from medical staff that there has been staffing shortages in certain areas, as well as an occasional shortage of beds.

"There appear to be nursing shortages," Kipe said. "We've diverted some people because we might not have had enough beds, but we might also have been understaffed at times to take care all of those people."

Interim chief clinical officer Beka Warren said the hospital is taking steps to deal with the increase in volume, which she thinks will sustain in future months.

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She said the hospital has increased the number of nurses on staff from three to four and is training five new nurses to "get the staff up to par levels."

In another adjustment to the increased volume, the board was asked Wednesday to approve the purchase of licenses for Point of Care software so that nurses and doctors can access patient records from different computers more readily.

Warren said the nurses were coming across a problem where they would try to log into the software and were blocked because of licensing issues.

The board approved, 7-0, the purchase of new licenses.

At the hospital, the new licenses will cost $13,600, and $1,100 per month for the TMH clinic license.

An additional license for a fetal monitoring system also was approved at $2,500.

Chalmers said these requests were made because of "safety issues, efficiency issues, availability to work issues."

"We identify certain criteria to make sure it's an important enough thing to make request," Chalmers said.

However, adding staff and software licenses will not affect the times when the hospital does not have enough beds for all the patients that doctors recommend be admitted as inpatients.

"We'll hold them sometimes in ER, or they can also be transferred," Warren said. "But we really try not to transfer them because it's hard on the families. We have opened up the intensive care unit and have put regular patients in there because it's important for a patient to be in a bed."

The Memorial Hospital is licensed as a critical access hospital, meaning it can have only 25 beds. If TMH added beds, it would become an acute care hospital and its reimbursement schedule and other dramatic changes would come into play.

Still, Warren said the hospital will meet the challenge and privilege of serving more patients.

Rohrich agreed that the volume increase it was an exciting, positive sign.

"We continue to be busier than we've ever been in memorable history — it's encouraging," Rohrich said. "More business is one of our goals to utilize our people and our resources. It's very encouraging and very positive."

In other action

The Memorial Hospital Board:

• Approved, 7-0, a recommendation by the Joint Conference Committee to accept general surgery clinical privileges.

• Approved, 7-0, a recommendation by the Joint Conference Committee to close the specialty of oncology except under exclusive contract. According to the committee minutes, this is to provide business protection for a start-up oncology service through St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction, which will be offered an exclusive contract to operate at TMH.

• Approved, 7-0, The Memorial Hospital Financial Assistance Policy.

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