Henry County Medical Center Board of Trustees Hears Accomplishments for the First Month of FY2021 with a Review of the Delta Program, Positive Financials, and Facility Growth

CUTLINE – Pictured is Rob Smith, Director of Plant Operations, as he presents the Cath Lab construction to the HCMC Board of Trustees at Thursday night’s meeting held in Classrooms 2 & 3.

Paris, TN –Henry County Medical Center Board of Trustees began their meeting Thursday night with a presentation by Bethany Adams, a representative with the Delta grant program.  Adams discussed what HCMC has accomplished over the first year of the grant including a financial and quality review as well as a telehealth evaluation.  Upcoming projects include a physician practice review.

The Delta grant program involves community care coordination planning with the help of our Community Champion.  In year two, a communication plan will be developed for both internal and external communications along with development of assessment plans from the reviews that were done in year one.  The ultimate goal is to ensure that HCMC is ready for the transition to population health.  Adams was extremely complimentary of HCMC and the staff involved and is looking forward to seeing what we will accomplish in the next two years.

“We are very excited about all the things we have on our roadmap to help us continue to grow forward,” said Lisa Casteel, HCMC CEO.

In her administrative comments, Casteel addressed the federal and state funds granted to HCMC for COVID-19.  We have received approximately $14.3 million to assist with the loss of revenues, productivity, inefficiencies, and supplies.  Casteel noted that two of the grants have forgiveness periods which will require us to adjust our June 2020 financial statements and not recognize these grants until the grants are forgiven later this year.

Casteel discussed current COVID-19 trends.  West TN is still considered a state hot spot, though cases in the state overall are trending downward.  We continue to see four to eight positive cases daily at HCMC.  As schools are now in session and the Labor Day holiday approaches, we will continue trending the rates of cases in the communities we serve as well as West TN.

CMS recently released two proposed payment models for rural communities known as the Community Health Access and Rural Transformation (CHART) Model.  HCMC will evaluate these models to see which one will be most beneficial to the organization.  Locally, HCMC received a Rural Residency Grant from the US Department of Health and Human Services to develop a rural residency program.  US Senator Marsha Blackburn’s office called to congratulate us and would like a tour of our facility, which is currently being planned.

HCMC has two excellent candidates for general surgery.  One will be working with us during September and October as a locum to cover ER call.  We are also working to recruit a gastroenterologist.  With the retirement of Dr. Compton, HCMC hopes to recruit quickly.

Paula Bell, Director of Pharmacy, was selected this month as Department Director of the Quarter.

HCMC remains on a day-to-day bed management program due to staffing.  Neely Ashby, Chief Nursing Officer, updated the board on the critical staffing shortages for RNs, LPNs, and CNAs.  This shortage is a national issue whereby larger organizations in hotspot areas are paying significantly more.  While HCMC offers a $55 per hour premium shift, others offer as high as $117 per hour.  Pre-COVID, HCMC had a bed capacity of 85.  Today, HCMC has anywhere from 52 to 60 beds available due to staffing.  In February, HCMC had only four nursing openings.  Today, HCMC has 31 RN positions open.  Nursing staff are currently in mandatory overtime and managers are working nights and weekends to cover needs in their units.

“In 26 years of nursing, this is the most challenging time I have ever seen,” said Ashby.  “During a two week period in August, of the 77 patients who were transferred, 33 could have been treated at HCMC but were transferred due to staffing, beds available, and surgery call coverage.  It has been a struggle.  Every day is a juggling act.”

Financially, Casteel highlighted several items on the report.  Currently, days cash on hand is good as well as a positive operating margin and EBIDA.  Physician practices have seen an increase along with outpatient services.  Surgeries are above last year, though under budget.  With a surgeon retiring, we may see a downward trend.  HCMC had a positive bottom line of $490,000, with $442,000 recognized from grant funding.

Physician practices have reduced their losses significantly by regrowing volumes and controlling expenses.  HCMC has applied for the rural health clinic designation for Eagle Creek Clinic and is in the process of applying for the same for Transitions Health.  Casteel said these types of clinics are better reimbursement for rural healthcare markets.

Bad debts continue to be high with this month at $746,409.36.  Additionally, several capital items were approved for a total of $63,016.

Rob Smith, Director of Plant Operations, presented a facility project update to the board.  Smith discussed the completed projects in the facility including the stereotactic room, pharmacy clean room, an OR Bronchoscopy room, as well as the 2 East Med Gas update.  This unit is currently serving as our COVID-19 unit and will become our step down unit as planned once COVID-19 trends downward.

Smith also provided an overview of the new Cath Lab construction which will occur in four phases.  Each phase allows for the next phase of the construction to occur because of utilizing space that is currently occupied by other departments or areas.

“It is really a much better use of space for our surgical services,” said Ashby.

Scott Whitby, MD, Board of Trustees Chairman, adjourned the HCMC board meeting and called to order the EMS board meeting.  Twila Rose, EMS Director, introduced Mark Pierce with AMR, the new partner for EMS.  Rose discussed the transition over the last two months with AMR and Pierce discussed the development of the new partnership including equipment and recruitment.  Rose reported four new people hired full time along with three part time people.

Casteel proposed a change to EMS board meetings quarterly, developing a separate committee for EMS meetings to include a board member, a member from AMR, and staff.  It was approved by the board and James Travis will serve on this committee.  Reports from EMS will still be presented to the board, but an official meeting will not occur during regular HCMC board meetings.

To learn more about the growth at Henry County Medical Center, go to our website at www.hcmc-tn.org and read about all the services we offer to care for our community.

The next Board of Trustees meeting will be September 24 at 5:30 p.m. at Henry County Medical Center.

About Henry County Medical Center

Located in Paris, TN, Henry County Medical Center is a progressive, integrated healthcare organization committed to serving the healthcare needs of Henry County and the adjoining region. Including a 142-bed hospital and 7 other facilities, the medical center provides a variety of outpatient services, as well as inpatient care. Henry County Medical Center is a county-owned and operated nonprofit institution. For more information: www.hcmc-tn.org.