Hospital boards hold meetings|
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
By Wendy Lynn Brion Staff Writer
Both the Clearfield Hospital Authority and Clearfield Hospital Board of Directors met in separate meetings yesterday to discuss similar items of interest in regard to operation of the hospital.
At the authority meeting, the board briefly reorganized, electing Andy Spenser as chairman, Jeb Soult as vice chairman and Sally Durica-Tabone as secretary treasurer. Mike Yeager was retained as solicitor and Walter Hopkins LLC, as accountant with Eric Elensky representing the firm.
The next meeting of the authority will be Oct. 28.
Much of what was discussed at the authority meeting was also discussed in further detail at the directors meeting later in the day. Chief Financial Officer of Penn Highlands, David McConnell talked about how the healthcare industry has been operating in a difficult environment and many external factors, including the poor economy, changes in the use of the hospital and changes in insurance companies, have affected the hospital's financial performance. He noted that other changes, including reduction in government insurance, increased bad debts and charity care and restrictions in managed care have resulted in lower reimbursement for services.
McConnell said total net patient revenue decreased by about 5 percent, or $3.5 million during fiscal year 2012, which ended June 30, 2012. There were also returns of investments and contributions from the community, totaling $365,000 in non-operating revenue, but the bottom line loss was still $4.1 million.
McConnell explained that the hospital wrote of $4.2 million in bad debts and there was a shortfall of $3.8 million in providing services to medical assistance patients.
Despite this, the hospital has continued to invest in medical technology and infrastructure, spending $2.8 million on capital.
He emphasized that the hospital is still on relatively solid ground, but it is imperative the hospital continue to change and adapt to eliminate losses.
It was also noted that, by joining with DuBois Regional Medical Center and Brookville Hospital to form Penn Highlands Health System, the losses were far less than they would have been. Being part of Penn Highlands allows all three hospitals to share resources and consolidate to work more efficiently.
Clearfield Hospital President Gary Machioce then spoke and said, "Despite the many challenges faced by all healthcare providers, Clearfield Hospital has continued to be a competent, safe healthcare resource for our community." He said the hospital contributed $133 million to the local economy in the past year and there are many things to be thankful for.
In 2012, the hospital was recognized as a top performer in the Highmark QualityBLUE program for efforts in preventing blood clots in admitted patients. The hospital is in the final stages of updating the Quality Assessment and Performance Improvement Plan to enhance patient safety and clinical outcomes.
The hospital has been successful in reducing readmissions, which involved working closely with nursing home providers.
The state Department of Health conducted the biannual licensure survey and the hospital successfully passed.
He added that the Committed to Caring customer service initiative has improved customer and workplace relations and patient satisfaction scores have improved. Macioce said they have been receiving positive comments from patients and visitors.
Clearfield Hospital also reached a milestone in electronic health records by achieving "meaningful use" standards and received a stimulus reimbursement. He had explained during the authority meeting that electronic medical records would be mandated by the federal government by 2015 and Clearfield Hospital is in the minority by being ahead of the game in implementation.
Macioce added that the year has also had its difficulties, citing the economic recession and that many in the region are either unemployed or underemployed and many families are struggling financially.
"Like those families, Clearfield Hospital must live within its means," he said, referring to McConnell's report of out of control factors including decreased inpatient and outpatient volumes, changes to Medicare and Medicaid, the hospital's uncompensated care expense and a shortage in physicians.
During the authority meeting he explained the physician shortage is both a state and nationwide problem. The biggest need is for primary care physicians because more medical students are choosing to specialize, which can result in higher pay. He said there is a movement to change this trend, but the need is still great and the hospital is aggressively recruiting.
Another initiative Macioce touched on during the authority meeting is preparation for "value based purchasing" as part of the Affordable Care Act, which adjusts how the hospital is paid based on outcomes or patient satisfaction. He noted that one area of concern is preventing readmission within 30 days and noted that the emphasis from the federal government is to prevent any readmission, even if the reason is not related to the original reason for admission.
Macioce explained to the directors that as they move forward the leadership and directors will have to examine operations and weigh benefits of services versus costs and decide how best to serve the community while being fiscally responsible.
"Does this mean Clearfield Hospital will close? The answer is no," he said. "Now, more than ever, Clearfield Hospital needs the support of the community." He noted that the hospital has provided high quality care for 112 years and will continue to do so.
Chairman Vince Turiano noted that one of the difficulties faced by the hospital this year was the loss of Dr. Gregory Sheffo in May. "Dr. Sheffo was an outstanding physician and touched many lives, and his loss is still greatly felt," Turiano noted. He thanked the physicians, staff, volunteers and members of the community for their support of the hospital.
Dr. Donald Conrad, medical staff president, reported on several new physicians who have joined the hospital's medical staff during the past year. These include: Dr. Shaun Patel, medical director of the hospitalist program; Dr. Soo Choi, radiation oncologist; Drs Carmine Marchioli, Hazem Elkassas and Mukhtar Hassan, oncologists; Drs. Brandon and Nico Roscoe, family practice; Drs. Jay Ambrose, Prasad Gupta and Scott Reese, cardiologists; Drs. Ruediger Kratz, Mary Feldman and Oskana Palatna, neurologists; Drs. Michael Martynik and Joseph Chang, urologists; and Dr. Gregory Wilson, rheumatologist.