Board supports land donation for child care initiative

    It needs some research and planning, but after a presentation by Holyoke Child Care Initiative coordinator Elizabeth Hutches at the East Phillips County Hospital Board meeting Tuesday, March 28, board and administration alike were gung ho about donating land for a child care facility.
    “It’s not a convenience — it’s a necessity,” said board member Woody Woodhead about the proposed child care center, “and probably no one else has the possibility of gifting land.”
    Hutches said in her presentation that, when given a variety of possible locations to pursue as building sites in a recent community survey, 77 percent of respondents favored a hospital-owned lot between the west side of the Melissa Memorial rural health clinic and Heginbotham Avenue.
    The board was very enthusiastic about the idea; however, it was concerning that the location could limit potential future clinic expansion. As MMH owns 29 lots in the vicinity, this was not a major holdup in the discussion. An area a block to the north near where Heginbotham bends was suggested instead.
    Hutches pointed out that the location is conveniently near both the elementary and JR/SR high schools for dropping off children.
    CFO Jason McCormick said that since MMH’s property is pledged in the mortgage, any donated land would need carved out. Research and general legal questions need to take place before any plan of action can really take shape.
    The proposed child care center is planned for 100-120 children and by law would need to be 100 feet by 150 feet. Since the potential lots are considerably larger than that area, Hutches and the board discussed collaborative community uses for the building.
    “We’re thinking about calling it more of a ‘family resource center,’” said Hutches, as it would both open more avenues for grants and benefit the community to offer more services. “We’re looking into building usage by various other local nonprofits.”
    So far, the child care initiative has applied for a matching grant to fund Hutches’ project coordinator position and will find out if they received it this month.
    By June, they hope to be conducting feasibility studies on the proposed land, and by fall, hope to be readying for a 2018 capital campaign.
     “January 2019 is the goal to open,” said Hutches. “They giggle when I say that, but you need a goal!”

CEO to testify on legislature for rural hospitals
    Recent legislative activity pertaining to rural hospitals was another major topic at the Tuesday meeting. MMH CEO Trampas Hutches has been advocating alongside other rural Colorado hospital CEOs for a bill reclassifying the hospital provider fee as an enterprise and planned to testify before Congress in support of the bill April 5.
    “All it is is a bookkeeper’s thing,” he later explained of the bill that could free up over $350 million in the state’s budget while benefiting hospitals.
    The hospital provider fee is an amount paid by hospitals through the state for federal reimbursement. This program was established by hospitals in 2009 to help offset losses incurred by providing Medicaid services. Hutches explained that since participation in the hospital provider fee program is voluntary, it isn’t a tax — adding that the hospital is not-for-profit anyway, so can’t be taxed.
    However, the funding is currently classified as a tax and therefore counts against the state’s revenue limits established under the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.
    This is a problem that, left unaddressed, will cause hospital funding to suffer as state budgets are stretched — and in a time when the health industry is seeing a great deal of change and uncertainty as it is.
    Twenty percent of MMH’s emergency visits are from Medicaid patients, and the hospital provider fee reimburses every dollar MMH pays into it four to one, according to Hutches.

MMH welcomes CFO Wesley White
    New MMH CFO Wesley White was present at the Tuesday meeting as he began his first week with MMH.
    As White becomes more oriented at MMH, the board approved extending the ongoing audit an additional 30 days to allow him time to evaluate everything.

Morning clinic hours to become permanent fixture
    Morning clinic hours from 7-9 a.m. are here to stay, as Jessica Skomp, FNP, informed the board at the Tuesday evening meeting. A retrospective 90-day analysis of the morning appointments was completed from the Dec. 19 start date to March 19 to verify if the hours were being taken advantage of.
    Among the three providers taking early morning appointments, 293 total patients were seen before 9 a.m. during that time. Each provider averaged between two and three early morning patients per day.
    While the ebb and flow of flu season patients has begun to drift off, Skomp predicted that the morning hours will still be taken advantage of by farmers in the summer during the busy season.
    The earlier times have also correlated with fewer emergency room visits and more student visits before school hours.

Kronos attendance and payroll system to save money
    After struggles in report generation with MMH’s current ADP payroll system, with MMH employees often having to manually create overtime and productivity reports, the board approved a switch to Kronos Workforce Central for attendance and payroll.
    Kronos is often used in health care systems and is therefore better suited to the shifts and incentives common to the industry. Also, after initial implementation expenses, the yearly cost is considerably lower than the current system’s yearly cost.
    Over six years, the new system should save the hospital around $40,000.

Residency program in final stages
    Hutches informed the board at the March 28 meeting that MMH is in the final stages of getting a residency program, which will help staff the emergency department and eliminate the need for locums.
    The residency program will be with St. Joseph’s Residency, an arm of the University of Colorado. MMH is now awaiting a formal answer from the program and could see residents on site beginning in July.

Building New Bridges event set for June 10
    Administrative assistant Diana Baeza announced at the Tuesday meeting on behalf of the MMH Foundation that Saturday, June 10, was set as the date of the 2017 Building New Bridges cultural dance.
    The event will take place from 8 p.m. to midnight. Jesse Ruiz Jr. and Eva Penzing serve as co-chairs.

Other business
    In other business at the March 28 meeting, the board:
    —Approved two new appointments, including Ananda-Kriiya Satya Fine, M.D., in teleneurology and Tim Meyer, O.D., in optometry; four reappointments, including Darrel Fenton, D.O., and Michael Hajek, M.D., in orthopedics, Michael Shed, M.D., in pulmonology and Judith Corey, M.D., in radiology; and one resignation, Thomas Neveldine, D.O., in radiology.
    —Held a 45-minute executive session for personnel and contract negotiation.

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