March 04, 2009 Edition

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LMH seeks support of tax

Terry Lambert, the new president of Lawrence Health Services, reported to the LHS Board on Feb. 23 about the Arkansas Hospital Association's efforts to have Senate Bill 582 introduced in the Arkansas Senate.

The bill would require most hospitals in the state to pay a Medicaid tax or assessment. Lambert said the state tax would raise about $40,000,000. However, the federal match would bring in additional money to the state, netting about $103,000,000.

"LMH would have to pay $101,012, but would get back $368,582 netting $265,570, which is desperately needed to cover our costs of providing care to Medicaid patients," Lambert said.

"Currently, Arkansas Medicaid pays, on average, about 70 percent of our costs (not charges) to provide inpatient care and, on average, about 44 percent of our costs (not charges) to provide outpatient care."

Lambert asks everyone to contact State Sen. Robert Thompson at thompsonr@arkleg.state.ar.us and our State Rep. J.R. Rogers at P.O. Box 190, Walnut Ridge, AR 72476 to ask them to not only support Senate Bill 582, but also co-sponsor the bill.

LMH receives grants

It was also announced that LMH has received two recent grants. One is for $18,750 from the Arkansas Rural Hospital Feasibility Grant Program to fund a capital improvement study.

The second grant is for $17,470 from the Arkansas Department of Rural Health and Primary Care for a "Heart Smart" program. These funds will pay for a new cardiac defibrillator and another upgrade.

Lawrence Hall Nursing Center Administrator Dickie Smith, along with Dr. Ted Lancaster, medical director, and Sharon Clements, director of nursing, presented quality reports at the Lawrence Health Services Board meeting on Feb. 23 that showed the nursing center to be in compliance with state standards.

LHNC awarded Five Star rating

They also announced that LHNC has received a "Five Star" rating. The Five Star rating is given to the top nursing homes in the state of Arkansas. It was also reported that nurses are going to start making rounds with physicians again.

"Many facilities have stopped this practice, but we feel it will be good for the physicians, the nurses and most importantly, the residents," Smith said.

An update was given on the floor covering replacement project, and the board was also informed that bids are being taken to replace vinyl wallpaper in the hallways. It was also reported that the Medicaid daily room rate has decreased to $138.89, but the nursing center is still showing an excess of revenue over expenses for the year.

Rosalind Casillas, Lawrence Memorial Hospital's director of nursing, gave the board a quality and safety report.

For the last three quarters, LMH has met the core measure criteria for acute myocardial infarction, pneumonia and congestive heart failure at the 100 percent level, which should place LMH as one of the top critical access hospitals participating in this comparative program.

Casillas reported that hospital-acquired infections are a top concern for all healthcare providers. This is also a focus area for LMH's prevention measures, and she said that staff's attention to detail have produced positive results. There have been no documented hospital-acquired infections from September 2008 through January 2009.

The board also heard a report about two of the National Patient Safety Goals being addressed at LMH.

The first goal is to improve the accuracy of patients' identification. The staff is required to use at least two "identifiers" when proving care, treatment or services. An example is asking the patient their full name and their date of birth.

The second goal is to improve the effectiveness of communication among caregivers. This is especially important when a patient is transferred from one treatment area to another.

Casillas reported that the hospital's overall patient satisfaction score was 93 percent based on patient surveys.

Ice storm tests emergency readiness

Junior Briner, vice president of support service, presented the monthly environmental safety report. He said the Emergency Management Plan has been the most recent area of focus for the committees. Many of the policies and procedures were tested during the intense ice storm experienced in the area.

Briner also reported that most department managers would be receiving National Incident Management System training in the coming weeks. He said this training is extremely valuable while dealing with major disasters that can strike at any time.

In other business:

  • Dr. Charles Davidson, chief of staff, gave the medical staff report. He reported that the medical staff applications for appointment, the 2009 Drug Formulary and the updated Medical Staff Bylaws were approved by the Credentials Committee, as well as the Executive Committee. The board approved them, as well.

  • Wilma Jones, chairman of the Lawrence Health Foundation, reported that the proceeds of the annual golf tournament were $14,427. She reported that some of the funds would be used to provide four $1,000 scholarships. The recipients were Amber Synder, Courtney Hull Troutman, Elizabeth Cody Adams and Felicia Baldridge.

  • the Finance Committee report was presented by Chairman Gary Little. The committee reviewed and approved several policies and procedures dealing with financial operations and authorized individuals to transact financial business.

    The financial operations of the hospital alone are being negatively affected by the economy like many other businesses. Cash flow has been off due to the lower patient census a few months ago that has improved during the last two months. Little reported that without tax support, the hospital would face an impossible situation.

  • Vanessa Wagner, chief financial officer, presented management's draft response to the recommendations made by external auditors, Baird, Kurtz, and Dodson. Most of the recommendations are common to small hospitals or other small businesses.

  • Lambert presented a quarterly, as well as an annual, competency report regarding direct and indirect caregivers. All of the individuals covered had satisfactory reports.

  • The board members were informed that LMH is seeking bids for a fully-insured plan for insurance. The Self Insured Trust that currently covers the hospital and nursing home would still be utilized.

  • Lambert also discussed ways that the hospital could work with the local physicians to help streamline their work at the hospital and possibly make their call responsibilities lighter.

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