Dietary department demonstrates hospitality, nutrition

    Updated menu items, special decorations and music, as well as creativity in meeting dietary needs, summed up the success report of the dietary department that was given at the Feb. 27 meeting of the East Phillips County Hospital District board.
    While department manager Sue Razo presented the details, it was praise from staff and administration that stood out.
    CFO Wes White said the hospitality and ambiance in the Melissa Memorial Hospital cafeteria have seen a real turnaround as Razo and the rest of the staff have made it a welcoming place.
    Special decorations and music made for a fun Valentine’s Day, and a snack cart complete with music helped relieve stress for employees during the Athena conversion last fall.
    Meal choices for patients have been popular, as well.
    Razo reported that during 2017, 2,217 meals were served to patients and 12,455 meals to employees and guests.
    The staff was praised for their involvement in helping cook and serve food at the Legacy Event in February.
    Saying that the future of the dietary department at MMH is looking even brighter, Razo noted that they’re working on small updates in the dining room. She added that they’re working to update the salad bar to add more nutritious choices.
    Razo is getting ready to start a 90-hour dietary manager’s certification class and plans to offer education to her employees so they understand diets and recipes. She hopes they’ll feel comfortable taking on an entrepreneur-like work environment.
    
Cardiac telemetry system approved for lease-purchase
    A $188,000 unbudgeted expense arose last week when the hospital’s 12-13-year-old cardiac telemetry system for heart monitoring started having problems.
    After hearing the circumstances, the board approved a 180-day deferred lease option with Mindray Capital to purchase a new cardiac monitoring system. This is pending approval from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The six-month deferment will be followed by 60 monthly payments of $3,719.57 for a total term of 66 months and $223,174.
    Since the item was not budgeted, CEO Trampas Hutches said he felt the lease-purchase was the best way to go. He said they can then look at the best way to get grants for the equipment.
    White said items like this will be traded out in the proposed capital budget. Hutches added that in the future it is his goal to have a percentage of the capital budget be designated for contingency to avoid trade-out of other things that had been prioritized.
    
Outpatient lab service initiated
    Starting Feb. 12, MMH initiated a new outpatient laboratory service, as explained by Hutches at last week’s board meeting.
    In this new service line, MMH hires a phlebotomist to draw blood for other doctors’ offices, then the blood is sent to MMH to be processed and results are sent back to the doctors’ offices. That person works in different doctors’ offices.
    This will increase the volume of lab samples processed in Holyoke.
    
Utilization above budget
    White reported favorably last week that both inpatient and outpatient utilization were above budget during the month of January.
    The unaudited income statement for the month showed a net income of $293,552.
    White pointed out that Medicaid accounts receivables have decreased, but the hospital continues to experience denials on routine transactions and slow payment processing due to the challenges with the State of Colorado changing Medicaid payment systems and payment subcontractors.
    
Benefit committee formed
    Hutches reported that a benefit committee has been formed at MMH. It’s been extremely helpful to staff and is also looking at a sick bank, paid time off and understanding benefit concepts.
    He elaborated on the Medical Air Services Association benefit for staff. This is a universal air, ground and repatriation ambulance insurance benefit that will pay 100 percent of the costs incurred after employee insurance for the service.
    MMH has picked up half the cost for employees and is offering this at full cost to individuals who are affiliated with the organization, such as contract employees.
    Other informational items addressed by Hutches included the annual public forum, which will be held Wednesday, April 4, at 5:30 p.m. in the clinic waiting room. He will talk about the state of the hospital and anything else the community wants to hear about.
    Dr. Rebecca Moore, an internal medicine doc, will be starting at MMH March 26, and a nurse practitioner is interviewing as well, said Hutches.
    He added that MMH currently has seven docs with the emergency room or clinic, as well as five nurse practitioners. He was pleased to note that the hospital hasn’t used locum tenens providers for some time.
    Emergency Medical Services coordinator Brady Ring has reached out to the high school about a junior paramedics course, and Hutches noted that a number of kids are interested.
    He also mentioned an active shooter response training program for staff on how to handle and de-escalate aggressive people. It also addresses what to do for evasive and defensive measures in an active event.

Child care initiative reported
    A feasibility study is being put together for the Holyoke Child Care Center Initative, Hutches told the board last week. The committee is working with the hospital attorney to determine the best route for building a building, leasing ground, etc.
    Hutches also reported on the MMH Foundation, touting the great turnout and success of the Feb. 10 Legacy Event, which has now grossed over $107,000.
    
Other business
    In other business Feb. 27, the hospital board:
    —Approved a new appointment for Randall Smith, ophthalmology; regular appointment for Mark Regan, M.D., telepsychiatry; reappointments for Douglas Carter, M.D., ophthalmology, and Michael Kim, M.D., cardiology; and resignation for Tomrul Tuzel, M.D., telepsychiatry.
    —Held a 23-minute executive session at the close of the meeting for contract negotiations with Hutches, White and interim business office manager Heidi Helms.

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