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Satisfaction numbers rising at RCH
In March 24 Issue
By Derek Aaron
Times Journal Editor

It was board member Rodney Johnson's final hospital board meeting last Thursday and he was honored with a plaque commemorating his eight years of service on the board. Johnson has served on the board since 2003.

"I appreciate the opportunity to serve on such a good and vital board with individuals here and those that have already served," Johnson said. He said the board has helped to stabilize the hospital and put them in the position they are now.

"Beyond that, I got to know a lot of folks on a more intimate basis because of our relationship on the board and I'll always treasure that," he said.

In other business at the meeting:

With Johnson's term expiring, Rasmussen announced that local CPA Sheldon Stephens had been added to the board by Judge-Executive Gary Robertson at the last fiscal court meeting. Stephens has been a longtime member of the Russell County Hospital's Foundation.

CEO David Rasmussen told the board the expansion project's design phase was progressing. He said the latest project update had much less shell space and more spaces being used by the hospital's services, something physicians wanted to see happen.

He also said the helipad was in the wrong place on the renderings of the project and said the pad would have to be moved toward the front of the building rather than on the north end of the building, near the public's main entrance way.

Rasmussen also said the hospital was still in wait-and-see mode on funding from the USDA and they were still exploring other funding options, including loans, as well.

o Rasmussen said the hospital's overall inpatient satisfaction for the month of February was 85.1 percent. The emergency room satisfaction drew the most attention from the board at 92 percent. Rasmussen said when he took over as CEO earlier this year that he would like to see satisfaction scores go up in the hospital and they are on the rise. The hospital also currently stands at 80 percent of patients who would recommend this hospital to others, Rasmussen said.

Outpatient satisfaction was in the 90s; ambulatory surgery is at 89.6 percent with an admission rate of 9.6 percent.

o Rasmussen also gave this month's financial report, saying February was a pretty busy month for the hospital with outpatient numbers up over the previous month.  He did say the hospital was down in admissions for 2011 compared to this point a year ago, much of that due to Dr. Thomas Johnson, who left the county in June of last year. He was averaging nine admissions per month.

The hospital's net income for the month of February was $67,041 and for the year to date is $970,738. Looking at the balance statement, the hospital's total liabilities and net assets totaled $16,614,964.

He said outpatient volume was up for February over the previous years by 15 percent and inpatient revenue was down by two percent. Revenue for February was also seven percent above budget.

The board approved an Olympus tower purchase of $61,811.32. In addition to the tower, an upgraded computer that will not lose images if unintentionally shut down along with two monitor replacements for units that are starting to fail.

The tower is where all the scopes connect and is the lifesource of the hospital's computer. The current tower is more than 15 years old, Rasmussen said, and has been slowly deteriorating and losing quality.

"In layman's terms it is the big Xbox where all the controls connect," he said. Alliance Vice President Jeff Buckley said the purchase was a good one, saying in recent years towers such as these had gone for more than $100,000.

The following calculation is an example of how Medicaid cuts could affect the RCH Physical Therapy Department.

PT numbers annualized:  Approximately 18 percent of PT volume is Medicaid driven; that would equal $359,000 less 35 percent would equal $31,000 over a three month period or $89,000 annually.

o Rasmussen said the hospital has already been receiving resumes for the general surgeon position that has been advertised and already has some interviews set up. He also said the new cardiologist, Dr. Himachal Veligandla, will soon be in the county twice a month to see cardiac patients.

o Westerfield said he was still interested in the hospital coming up with a billboard to display in the county advertising the digital mammography program. He said he read 34 mammograms last week and hasn't read less than 30 since the program started. Before mammograms went digital, Westerfield said he was only reading 18-23 per week.

o Teresa Bricker, the hospital's director of quality and risk management, gave the board the 2010 Performance Report, saying there were no real big issues and everything with the hospital checked out okay.

Bricker also said she presented an abstract to APIC which was selected for poster presentation at the APIC 2011 Annual Educational Conference and International Meeting in Baltimore in June.

APIC stands for the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology.

o Dr. Jerry Westerfield gave the medical staff report saying the RCH Medical Staff was reappointed and Jennifer Ashley Hart, ARNP-C was approved as recommended.

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