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Edgefield County Hospital Board's Monday Meeting

web posted August 26, 2014

EDGEFIELD   Attending the Edgefield County Hospital Board meeting Monday evening was a challenge in that board members were in the conference room eating dinner well past the time the meeting was advertised to begin, 6:30 pm. Although board members were well aware members of the public were waiting in the hallway to attend the meeting, no one announced the meeting was about to begin and left the door shut.
By the time one person in the hallway said "they've finished", CFO Kelly Cox was well into giving a financial update when we entered, her report was showing the hospital and the outlying doctors offices at the Peach Tree Medical Clinic and the Ridge Spring Clinic improving financially. It seemed as though the very positive cash-flow was coming from the clinics, not the hospital - where admissions were stated to be down recently. It was difficult to pin down that point as there were no exhibits made available to the public so they could keep up with the rattling off of all the numbers given during the report.

Vice-chair Sharon Wall did ask that in the future that the three entities, all under the umbrella of the hospital, be broken out separately so it would be easier to see how each does independently of each other. Ms. Cox said that would be possible and she would make the numbers available.

In all, the financial report showed accounts in the black and in better shape than at this time last year.

It was also stated that the budget should be ready to be presented at the September meeting.

CEO Brandon Clary ran over a number of items including making the board aware that there will be big changes coming as the new healthcare law (ObamaCare) kicks in at the beginning of the year, people are going to be "shopping" their healthcare more closely as premiums are going to increase sharply as will out of pocket deductibles that must be paid before insurance will start to cover some of the costs. Those increases will become more obvious in the early fall as insurance companies set the new rates for their insured.

According to national new reports, individuals could see out of pocket deductibles rise to as much as $5,000 a year before insurers will even begin paying part of the costs.

As a result, Mr. Clary said they are working on pricing sheets that will be available to patients so that they know just how much they will be paying for a test, procedure and the like. Those with Medicare or Medicaid will see the amount the program will pay and how much the patient will pay out of pocket.

Mr. Clary also stated that he will be seeking to address the county council to see if the county would be willing to donate ambulances that have recently been taken "off-line" so that the hospital can provide non-emergent transports for patients needing to be transferred to another hospital. He said the companies that provide non-emergent transports are not holding up their end of the deal with the county and want to "cherry pick" which patients they want to take, preferring to only transport "paying" customers.

When asked if the hospital would hire an ambulance crew, Clary said it would be more of a "stand-by" position in the event that the companies refuse to take a non-paying patient..

The doctors in attendance continued to complain about the medical records and order input on the required computer programs still continues to create major headaches and in some cases makes it impossible to enter a simple order for a patient. Mr. Clary said that this is being heard across the country as the new federal laws kick in (ObamaCare) and hospitals and doctors are universally having the same problems, but ECH is trying to work around the problems.

The Edgefield Medical Clinic (EMC) negotiations are continuing and Mr. Clary passed out a floor plan of EMC color coded with areas that EMC would be allowed to use, areas the hospital wants to use and the common spaces that will be used by all. Clary stated he suggested that ECH be given the entire back side of EMC for use by the hospital but that suggestion was shot down.

The only vote taken was on the back-up and disaster recovery for medical records and orders on the computer systems. The contract was given to Med Host at a cost of $8,700 for set up and then $6,000 a month to operate the system. (Those numbers could be inaccurate as hearing was difficult as stated above, and even with a digital recorder it was still difficult to confirm the amounts).

The hospital is also currently working on updating policies and the employee handbook. Vice-chair Wall suggested that the handbook be an easy to read form of the actual policies, just in layman's terms.

Possible raises for employees is also being reviewed since there have been none in 3 years, and that raise was a simple cost of living raise. Management is reviewing pay schedules of hospitals that competes for staff in the CSRA. Most of the employees that leave, it was said, leave due to better job offers at area hospitals.

After the business portion of the meeting was over, the board went in to executive session for a "contractual matter", Chairman Williams said.

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