Texas County Memorial Hospital is remodeling office space and putting everything in place for three new healthcare providers planning to join TCMH in June and July board members heard at their May monthly meeting.
Juan Mella, MD (right), a board certified pulmonologist, has signed a contract to work part-time for Texas County Memorial Hospital at the TCMH Medical Complex in Houston beginning in mid-June. Mella is shown here with Wes Murray, TCMH chief executive officer.
Juan F. Mella, MD, a board certified pulmonologist, is joining TCMH to work part-time as a clinic-based pulmonologist and to oversee the hospital Sleep Studies Lab.
“Dr. Mella approached us about working part-time at TCMH, and we were able to work out an arrangement that is mutually beneficial,” Wes Murray, TCMH chief executive officer, said.
Mella has over 30 years experience as a pulmonologist. He attended medical school and residency at Wayne State University in Detroit, MI. He completed a pulmonology fellowship at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach, FL. He’s board certified in internal medicine, pulmonology and sleep medicine, and he’s a fellow of the American College of Chest Physicians.
Mella has practiced in Florida, Michigan, Ohio, and most recently, at Ozarks Medical Center in West Plains, MO.
“We have a large number of patients with pulmonary conditions,” Murray said. “Access to a pulmonologist has been a major problem for many of our patients.”
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, commonly referred to as COPD, is one of the top admission diagnoses at TCMH. The hospital has a cardiopulmonary department that is staffed 24/7, providing breathing treatments, managing ventilators, and performing outpatient pulmonary testing for a variety of issues.
The cardiopulmonary department did 105,156 procedures in 2015, an increase of almost 2,000 procedures from 2014. A two-bed sleep studies laboratory is also part of the department.
“Dr. Mella is very passionate about a sleep issues, and he looks forward to working with our medical staff and their patients in identifying and treating sleep issues,” Murray said.
The TCMH Sleep Studies Lab operates three nights each week. With Mella’s help, TCMH hopes to grow sleep study availability.
Additionally, TCMH is pursuing a grant from the Missouri Foundation for Health to start a pulmonary rehabilitation program for patients with moderate to severe lung disease.
According to Murray approximately 10 patients have a pulmonary function test done at TCMH each month. Over half the patients receiving pulmonary function tests at TCMH in the past year would qualify for a pulmonary rehabilitation program because they have moderate to severe lung disease.
The grant would help start the pulmonary rehabilitation program, and qualifying patients would participate in the 12-week program that would help patients improve lung function and activities of daily living.
“If we are able to start a pulmonary rehab program, Dr. Mella will also be an asset to the program and the patients involved with it,” Murray explained.
Mella will see patients in the TCMH Medical Complex, located next to the hospital in Houston. Mella will not be part of the hospital call group, but he is willing to do consultation work with patients in the hospital as needed.
“This is a great opportunity for us to work with a specialist physician that wants to continue to work in the area without call responsibilities or full-time employment,” Murray said.
Mella will begin seeing patients in mid-June.
Cory Offutt, MD, family medicine and obstetrics physician is joining TCMH after he completes residency at the University of Missouri in Kansas City in June. Offutt just completed a surgical residency rotation at TCMH working with Dr. Linda Milholen, TCMH general surgeon. Offutt began moonlighting shifts in the TCMH emergency department in May, too.
Offutt’s final residency rotation is also at TCMH—a clinical rotation with Dr. Jonathan Beers, TCMH internal medicine physician at the TCMH Medical Complex, the same clinic where Offutt will be based.
In late June, Offutt and his wife, Samantha, are relocating to a home they have purchased in Texas County. Offutt begins working full-time at TCMH in mid-July. He will be based in the TCMH Medical Complex, too. Offutt will see patients of all ages, and he will deliver babies at TCMH as part of his practice.
“Dr. Offutt received word this week that he passed his board certification exam,” Murray told board members. “He is very eager to start his new practice with TCMH.”
Sheena Painter, a TCMH nurse and an instructor for the Cox College of Nursing program in Cabool, has completed her family nurse practitioner program at Frontier Nursing University in Hyden, KY. After completing her board examination, Painter will continue to work part-time for TCMH as a family nurse practitioner.
“Sheena will be primarily based in the TCMH Walk In Clinic, but we may also utilize her in other clinics, too, when needed,” Murray said.
Recruiting efforts are also underway for an additional full-time general surgeon and an additional full-time family medicine or internal medicine physician.
With the addition of Mella and Offutt and the growing popularity of the TCMH Walk In Clinic, remodeling work is being done to the TCMH Medical Complex.
“We are going to rearrange the flow of some parts of the clinic to make the clinic space more user friendly for our staff and for our patients,” Murray said.
The hospital’s maintenance department is doing the remodeling work in-house. The project will centralize some administrative offices and add more patient exam rooms.
Doretta Todd-Willis, TCMH chief nursing officer, reported that TCMH does not have any full-time or part-time registered nurse vacancies at the hospital with the recent hiring of eight graduate registered nurses that recently completed their RN training.
“All of these nurses are graduates of area nursing programs, and prior to full-time employment, they worked part-time or did nursing rotations at the hospital,” Todd-Willis said.
Nursing students from Missouri State University in West Plains, Cox College/Drury University in Cabool and Texas County Technical College in Houston do clinical rotations at TCMH during their training programs.
“Having these area nursing programs nearby gives us an opportunity to show off our hospital to area students,” Murray said. “Many of them look forward to working full-time in their community after completing their education.”
Amanda Turpin, quality management director at TCMH, presented updated quality measurement information to board members.
According to Turpin, the Center for Medicare Services (CMS) will soon make public hospital data for readmission and mortality rates for stroke, pneumonia, heart failure, COPD and heart attack. All of the TCMH scores are risk adjusted for specific patient demographics by CMS before they are reported
“Overall, our scores were good, and even with the risk adjustment by CMS, TCMH ranks better than the state and national averages for these quality measures,” Turpin said.
Cost per patient episode is also part of the information to be released by CMS, and Turpin noted that TCMH averages about $2,000 less per patient episode than state and national averages.
“We make a lot of efforts to control costs at TCMH, and I think we should be very proud that our costs are significantly lower than state and national averages,” Murray said.
Linda Pamperien, TCMH chief financial officer, presented the financial report for the month of April.
“Inpatient and outpatient volumes were above budgeted expectations,” Pamperien reported. She noted that contractual adjustments were at normal levels for the month, and overall expenses were down for April.
TCMH ended the month of April with a positive bottom line of $58,343.46, and a year-to-date bottom line of $22,346.72.
Present at the meeting were Murray; Pamperien; Todd-Willis; Turpin; April Steele, administrative secretary; Dr. Jonathan Beers, TCMH chief of staff; and board members, Dr. Jim Perry, OD; Mark Hampton; Omanez Fockler, and Janet Wiseman.
Russell Gaither, TCMH board member, was not present at the meeting.
The next meeting of the TCMH board of trustees is Tue., June 28 at 12 p.m. in the hospital board room.