Texas County Memorial Hospital had two representatives along for the Missouri Hospital Association rural hospital advocacy visit to federal representatives in Washington, DC, board members heard at their monthly meeting on Tuesday.
Wes Murray, TCMH chief executive officer, and Omanez Fockler, hospital board member, joined other rural hospital leaders in a two-day hill climb that gave Murray and Fockler the opportunity to meet personally with Missouri Senators Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill and Missouri House Representatives Jason Smith and Vicky Hartzler.
“We talked with them about the issues that were of the biggest concern to TCMH—low-volume adjustment payments, 340b pharmaceutical program and National Health Service Corps loan-repayment and scholarship programs,” Murray said.
Murray described the trip as a “whirlwind” that included a group dinner with Missouri’s senators and meetings in the offices of the Missouri representatives.
Several programs from which TCMH receives funding are set to expire on September 30th, but congressional representatives that Murray and Fockler spoke with were positive that the “extenders” would be renewed by Congress in 2017.
Murray complimented Fockler on engaging Representative Smith’s legislative aide, showing him photos of homes in Texas County, to demonstrate the lives of all types of people in rural America at stake in the healthcare debate.
“I had an equal mix of good homes and bad homes that are located right here in Texas County,” Fockler said. She added, “While they are in Washington making political moves, this is how people are living here.”
Fockler noted the importance of talking with the legislative aides due to their day-to-day work on behalf of the legislators.
“Missouri presents a unique set of challenges for our lawmakers, since this is a state that did not expand Medicaid as the Affordable Care Act intended,” Murray said.
Murray explained that the 19 states that did not expand Medicaid are seeking extra considerations from Congress due to the disparity created by not expanding Medicaid.
“Everything so far shows that Missouri would have been better to expand Medicaid than to wait for changes to the Affordable Healthcare Act,” Murray said.
Dr. Jim Perry, OD, TCMH board chairperson, reiterated the importance of federal legislators understanding of the differences in providing healthcare services in rural America versus urban or suburban America.
“An urban area might be able to live without certain funding or provisions, but it could mean a loss of services here,” Perry said.
Perry asked Murray to extend an invitation to Representative Smith to visit TCMH and to meet with the board of trustees when Smith returns to the Ozarks from Washington, DC.
Also at the meeting, board members unanimously agreed to sign a resolution to use US Communities, a national cooperative purchasing program, to procure bids for the surgery department construction currently underway on the TCMH campus.
US Communities provides procurement resources and solutions for local and state government agencies, K-12 school districts, higher education institutions, and non-profit agencies seeking the best overall supplier government pricing. TCMH is eligible for the program as a county-owned hospital. Other county hospitals in Missouri utilize the cooperative. Texas County and other agencies in Texas County are also members.
“We learned of this program in the process of looking for specific HVAC equipment for the surgery department,” Murray said. “We have been told that we can save a significant amount on certain items by using US Communities to help in the procurement process.”
Construction work on the surgery department is being done by members of the TCMH maintenance department. The new department, located between the Jayson Gentry Community Safe Room and the East wing of the hospital, will have two operating rooms, an endoscopy suite and seven private pre-surgical and post-surgical rooms for patients. The area is 6,091 square feet in size.
Currently Linda Milholen, MD is the only full-time general surgeon at TCMH, but Jason Loden, DO, will join TCMH as a full-time general surgeon next summer. Christopher Baldwin, MD, an OB-GYN, and the other obstetrics physicians that do Cesarean-sections at TCMH utilize the surgery department. Jonathan Beers, DO, internal medicine physician, does colonoscopies in the surgery department as part of his practice. Other ancillary physicians that visit TCMH also use the department for services such as ophthalmologic and podiatric surgery.
Construction work on the surgery department should be complete in 2018.
Linda Pamperien, TCMH chief financial officer, presented the financial statement for the month of September.
During August inpatient volumes and outpatient revenues were up. Expenses were down for the month of August leaving the hospital with a positive bottom line of $72,669.16 and a negative year to date balance of $331,651.58.
“We are up 92 admissions for 2017 in comparison to the same time last year,” Pamperien said.
Present at the meeting were: Murray; Pamperien; Doretta Todd-Willis, chief nursing officer; Joleen Senter Durham, director of public relations; Amanda Turpin, quality management director; Dr. Jonathan Beers, TCMH chief of staff; and board members, Fockler, Perry, and Jay Loveland.
TCMH board members, Mark Hampton and Janet Wiseman, were not present at the meeting.
The next meeting of the TCMH board of trustees is Tue., Oct. 24th at 12 p.m. in the TCMH board room.