Melissa Memorial proud of improved EMT service

    “Ambulance transfers, response times and providing obstetrics are huge concerns for the community,” Melissa Memorial Hospital CEO Trampas Hutches reported to the East Phillips County Hospital District board Tuesday, Jan. 2.
    “We only missed seven ambulance transfers to other facilities this past year — three due to staff out on other calls and four were a result of not having enough ambulances.” This is a significant improvement over last year, having missed 96 transfers in 2016, Hutches added.
    Before hiring Brady Ring as emergency medical services manager and full-time paramedic, MMH had an all-volunteer EMT force. They did well but did not have enough time to dedicate to the service. Once Ring came on board, he was instrumental in putting together a great team and they have taken the service to astronomical levels, Hutches noted.  
    There were 370 total calls for ambulance service this past year, compared to 152 in 2016. Average response times decreased drastically from 16 minutes and 24 seconds in 2016 to 4 minutes and 51 seconds in 2017. Time spent at the scene increased slightly due to improved patient assessment and monitoring to provide better patient care, he reported.
    Hutches noted that MMH has about 20 volunteer EMTs and drivers. There is a class that will be finishing up this spring, adding eight more volunteers to the service. In addition, MMH will be hiring a second full-time paramedic soon, Hutches said.
    “MMH is very proud of how this service has improved. The numbers speak for themselves, but we still have a lot of great things that we will be rolling out in 2018 to enhance this service,” he added.
    Hutches pointed out that Sterling Regional MedCenter and Wray Community District Hospital are the two facilities where most people in this area go to have babies delivered. SRMC has now delivered twice as many babies as Wray in total.
    Statistics show a significant decline in birth rates in this area, making it unfeasible to support a labor and delivery service at MMH at this time, said Hutches.
    “Inpatient numbers for all people from our area that stayed in any hospital has remained flat over the past four years, averaging slightly over 300. However, more and more patients are staying at MMH for care, giving the hospital 60 percent of the market share in this area,” Hutches reported.
    “MMH is nearly fully staffed, including some good hires in nursing,” Hutches told the board. Doug Peterson has accepted the clinic manager position and will begin employment Feb. 5.
    Hutches noted that a committee has formulated a rough draft of the mission statement which includes significant changes. MMH is working to change its culture, and the mission statement will reflect that, he added.
    Giving a shout out to staff for going above and beyond to make a family comfortable, Hutches shared a good news story with the board. The family of an individual who was in their last days and eventually passed by natural causes came from far away. The staff went above and beyond to make the family feel comfortable by providing vacant patient rooms and meals. “This is the culture we want at MMH,” said Hutches.
    
CFO shares financial conditions

    CFO Wes White reported that an increase in days in accounts receivable was anticipated with the change to Athena electronic records management system. As with any hospital computer system conversion, it impacts the revenue cycle functions.
    The Athena system has created a backlog of accounts with various issues that have delayed coding, charging and billing of claims for dates of service since Sept. 19, 2017. The days in accounts receivable at the end of November was 92 gross days, 15 days higher than the 77 days in September and seven days above the 85-day threshold.
    Heidi Helms has been contracted as the interim business office manager through the conversion to Athena because she is a subject matter expert who has spent her career in hospitals correcting implementation problems.
    Helms is analyzing the various account status lists in Athena and is working with Health Information Management Supervisor/Assistant Business Office Manager Julie Kinner and the revenue cycle committee to resolve Athena problems.
    As HIM and business office staff identify issues, they notify the Athena customer support center. Athena CSC personnel are reviewing the calls promptly to prioritize the service orders for programmer research and correction of the software. Some of the problems are very complex and require several days to correct.
    Medicaid accounts receivable has decreased, but the hospital continues to experience denials on routine transactions and slow payment processing due to the challenges with the State changing Medicaid payment systems.
    The 25 percent discount on self-pay balances until April has given incentive to patients with self-pay accounts balances and extended payment plans to pay their balances in full.
    
MMHF focuses on Legacy Event
    Twenty tables have already been sold for the upcoming Legacy Event in February. Foundation board representative Steve Young told the board that 30-32 tables are normally sold for the event, so they are on track.
    Young reported that Hutches has been an ex officio member of MMHF, but he now holds an elected position.
    
HCCCI reports
    Hutches updated the board on the progress of the Holyoke Child Care Center Initiative. He reported that the organization to which the feasibility study for the child care facility was submitted for funding came for a site visit. There was much competition for the grant, and the committee withdrew at this time because the grant had to be used on playground equipment and outside infrastructure this year.
    Originally it was going to be within three years when it was submitted.  Due to the competitiveness for the grant, the funding organization decreased the time and award size.
    
Quality and materials personnel update board
    MMH Quality Improvement  Coordinator Jennifer Cano reported an increase in patient satisfaction. The hospital continues to ensure calls are made to every patient discharged to review medications and follow-up appointments. MMH has partnered with HealthStream to complete patient satisfaction surveys via phone after discharge.
    Materials Director Kim O’Neill shared an update on the transition to the JumpStock inventory management system in connection with the Athena conversion. White commended O’Neill for a job well done in building the inventory into the new system. “In addition, Kim is tenacious in finding the best price for all of our materials,” White added.
    
Other business
    In other business at the Jan. 2 meeting, the board:
    —Approved two regular appointments for Christian Burrell, M.D., in teleneurology and Farhad Keliddari, M.D., in radiology; and five reappointments, including Cynthia Gryboski, M.D., in cardiology, Hugh Parker, M.D., in cardiology, Nasreen Mallik, M.D., in telepsychiatry, Ravinder Sohal, M.D., in radiology and Laura Marinello, PA-C, in cardiology.
    —Held a 35-minute executive session for personnel matters.

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