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Memorial Regional Health CEO provides financial updates to Craig City Council

Medical offices at Memorial Regional Health.
Courtesy Photo

In a presentation to Craig city councilors Tuesday evening, Memorial Regional Health CEO Andy Daniels revealed MRH’s current cash on hand sits at 60 days – a substantial increase from the single-digits days of 2020 – and Open Heart Advocates officially received grant funding for 2021 and 2022.

Daniels was present to update City Council on MRH’s current financial situation and to work on repairing the hospital’s relationship with the community as part of MRH’s new internal initiative to become a four-star hospital.

Daniels began his presentation by displaying a chart outlining the financial impact COVID-19 has had on rural hospitals. The chart compared numbers from March 2019, without a pandemic and March 2020, when the novel coronavirus first hit Colorado.

According to Daniels’ chart, rural hospitals lost $47,240,635 in March 2020, a percentage loss of -268%.

“A lot of organizations had to shut down for a variety of reasons,” Daniels said. “A lot of them – most of them – chose to stop doing elective surgeries, and business started to drop off.”

The financial outlook for hospitals started to perk up in April as federal funds related to the CARES Act poured into rural hospitals. Prior to the federal assistance, MRH was able to sustain itself financially thanks to previous budget cuts the organization went through in late 2019 and early 2020 and the decision to allow elective surgeries to continue locally.

MRH received more than $4 million in federal coronavirus assistance from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Paycheck Protection Plan.

While MRH is still technically operating at a loss, according to Daniels, MRH has seen its days cash on hand number increase in recent months, putting them on track to hit their goal in that category.

In May, MRH sat just below 30 days cash on hand, which was a substantial increase from the eight or so days of cash the organization had on hand in late 2019 and early 2020. At the end of June, MRH reported more than 60 days cash on hand, which pushes them closer to their goal of 90 days cash on hand.

“I’d like to tell you tonight that I believe we’ve turned a corner,” Daniels said. “As long as we maintain what we’re doing and stay on track, we’ll be in good shape into the future.”

OPEN HEART ADVOCATES RECEIVES GRANT APPROVAL

Daniels also announced Open Heart Advocates received its two-year grant funding for 2021 and 2022, totaling more than $250,000.

Previously, MRH and OHA had asked the city and the county to chip in $6,250 a month through 2020 to help the agency remain operational.

“That is great news for us as a community,” Daniels said. “We want to thank you for your support through the end of this year, because come Jan. 1 we are funded for the next two years.”

FOUR-STAR HOSPITAL

Daniels later presented MRH’s Four-Star Hospital campaign to council, citing MRH’s desire to work on its strategic planning within the community.

A four-star designation is awarded to hospitals by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services based on two standards: clinical quality and perceived customer satisfaction.

“If you are to compare our clinical quality to any of our neighbors, we have excellent clinical quality,” Daniels said. “In fact, in many, many categories, we exceed many of our neighbors in clinical quality.

“It’s the customer service side that we struggle with, and the perception of customer service,” Daniels continued. “So our goal going forward into next year is to begin a campaign and address some of the issues that we believe leads to our current three-star designation.”

According to Daniels, just 17% of hospitals nationwide earn a four-star designation.

“This is something we as an organization would like to work toward — commit to the community and to you what we strive to become,” Daniels said.

MRH will focus on five key categories in its campaign: staff development and training; engagement and accountability; external and internal stakeholder relationships with the board of trustees; clinical excellence; and patient satisfaction.

Part of patient satisfaction for MRH revolves around quality of interactions and accuracy of financials and billing, according to Daniels. As far as external and internal stakeholder relationships, Daniels added MRH will work on its community relations moving forward.

“Our bills have not been terribly clear, and that’s something we’ve struggled with over the years,” Daniels said. “I’m committing to you that we’re going to figure this out and get this addressed as part of this campaign.”

“I’d just like to say that I very much appreciate that direction and the steps the hospital has taken for the community,” Mayor Jarrod Ogden said. “I’m not trying to speak for everyone, but I think everyone would resonate that the problems you’ve identified are the problems we’re hearing about throughout the community.

“I’m very thankful that you guys are financially in good standing compared to some of the state and the nation, but I think it is equally important that you guys are taking on the challenge of repairing and fostering that relationship with the community,” Odgen added.


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