In Apr. 24 issue By Greg Wells Times Journal Managing Editor
RUSSELL SPRINGS - There was disappointment expressed over the management reply to the board's recent questions during an interview this week with Hospital Board Chairman Jeff Hubbard.
"There was not enough meat in their answers," Hubbard said. "I think we were all looking for more specific answers. People are asking us (on the board) very specific answers and wanting specific answers."
He pointed to the company's reply to their question of how long it would take to retire the hospital's debt. "Five to nine years?" Hubbard asked. "We need to get there quicker than that."
Hubbard said he wanted better answers.
"We need to find a way to get (debt free) as quick as we can without additional burden on the taxpayers," Hubbard stressed.
He said he wanted solid input on how to make the hospital profitable and efficient.
Hubbard passed over the second part of Alliant Management Services' answer to that question. They wrote that they expected to pay off the existing debt in 5 to 9 years, but add another $5 million in construction and renovation debt in 2010.
In answer to the board's question on how to make the hospital more profitable, Alliant replied that the hospital has shown a profit every year.
After the last board meeting when these answers were supplied to the board at least a couple board members were heard to complain that this profit included over $600,000 in local taxes paid to the hospital.
Also in answer to that question, the management firm stated they plan on a $309,000 profit in operations for the 2009 fiscal year. As of last month in the 2008 fiscal year the hospital's operations have lost $256,242 and operations lost money last year as well.
In response to the board's question regarding the quality of care at the hospital, the firm did not provide an answer, opting instead to include a chart comparison of performance.
It was noted by Alliant in the board meeting that Russell County Hospital performed at or above many of the averages for Alliant hospitals.
The chart does show RCH performing better in 10 of 16 measures, the same in two and worse in four compared to Alliant-managed hospitals.
Comparing Alliant-managed hospitals to Kentucky and national averages on 22 points, their average is worse than either the state or national average, or in most cases both, 17 times. They are the same as the others' average once and better than state or national averages four times.
RCH bests the state and national averages 6 times.
The data reportedly came from Medicare and Medicaid reporting and they noted it is available at Hospital Compare, which is found on the Internet at hospitalcompare.hhs.gov
A number of the questions submitted by the board to the hospital's management firm ask for answers regarding building profitability, cutting costs and other ways of asking how to make the hospital run better.
Three times the answer was simply "see answer #3." Question 3 asked if other hospitals they manage are seeing similar results as this county's hospital.
Alliant's answer was: "Results are similar to those at RCH where there is less than full participation of the Board and Medical Staff in the strategic planning process for the hospital."
The Times Journal is a weekly newspaper issued on Thursdays. It was first published on October 13, 1949, by Andrew J. and Terry Norfleet.
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Russell County News is a weekly newspaper issued on Saturdays, and is mailed free to every address in Russell County, Ky. It was first published on February 1, 1913.
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