Henry County Medical Center Board of Trustees Hears from Chief of Staff and Receives Update on COVID-19

Paris, TN – HCMC Board of Trustees heard from Mengistu Yemane, MD, the new Chief of Staff and the Hospitalist Medical Director.  He shared with the board a little about the Delta variant and the impact it is making on the hospital and the community.

“Delta is much worse than what we saw before and really the only thing helping is the vaccine,” said Dr. Yemane.  “I encourage everyone to get the vaccine.”

Kreg Kyle, Board Member thanked Dr. Yemane for coming.  “We encourage you to come every time.  We love hearing from you.”

Lisa Casteel, CEO, gave her administrative report, discussing the elephant in the room, COVID-19.  She shared about President Biden’s White House call today with his six-prong approach to the pandemic.  The strategy for the mandate for healthcare vaccinations was discussed, where all healthcare providers must be vaccinated and not allowed to just test like industry will be able to do.

“The reasoning behind this is that 70% of healthcare systems across the country have already mandated the vaccine,” said Casteel.

The patient volumes and surge are higher than what we saw in December 2020 and patients are much sicker than they were during that time.  Casteel discussed the shortages in supplies including the infusions for COVID-19.  Currently, HCMC is offering this 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, but we are expecting a 30% reduction in the availability of it next week.

Currently, Henry County has a positivity rate close to 30%.  It is a day-by-day situation where we can have a surge in our ER and facility.  This is causing us to reallocate staffing on a daily basis, impacting our services.

Casteel discussed vaccine education and hesitancy and she encouraged the Board Members to make sure they go to our social media, website, and watch our videos for information related to this.

“We had a news channel out of Nashville ask to use our videos and we said yes, absolutely,” said Casteel.

She also reported on two accreditations that we recently received.  One is the recertification by Joint Commission for our Joint Center of Excellence.  We received our original accreditation in 2018.  Additionally, we received a new certification in Urology from Medtronics for a Center of Excellence in overactive bladder care.  Dr. Mobley, III was the first physician in TN and one of a few nationally to be recognized for this achievement.

Increases in pay was also discussed.  Last year we did not do pay raises for staff, but because of the market and traveling nursing, HCMC has implemented a pay increase to try and be competitive in the market.  Additionally, HCMC is evaluating our benefits and wellness plan to be comparable of the industry to help to increase the wages of the organization.

HCMC honored 86 employees with a total of 1,035 years of service to the organization with a come and go reception on Wednesday, Sept. 22.  Additionally, on Tuesday, Sept. 21 during a FB Live, our Partner of the Year, Meggan Walker with Home Health as well as Managers of the Year, Steve Delaney with Accounting and DeAnn Berry with CCU/PCU/Cardiac Rehab were recognized for all they have done this past year for the organization.

“We are so grateful to have such talent among our partners and management at HCMC,” said Casteel.

The Board of Trustees agreed to accept two, 3-year terms for leasing of the Surgery Center and Kentucky Lake Urologic Associates by the request of Dr. Mobley, Jr.  They will be investing in a significant upgrade in the HVAC system.

Casteel discussed complaints and grievances May through August with the Board of Trustees.  HCMC received 8 complaints and 32 grievances during this time. Combined, these are less than 0.25% of our patient visits.  Next month we will have the total number of positive comments we receive.  Casteel says the positive comments are just as many if not more than the complaints.    Casteel discussed the customer service training that has been completed with the ER physicians and providers.  The report was approved by the board.

Brad Bloemer, HCMC CFO, began his report by reviewing the activity and performance summary.  For August, we did much better than anticipated with a $331,000 profit.  A major reason for that was less uninsured in the facility and a very high acuity rate which made our case mix index higher and better reimbursement.  Our ER visits were drastically increased due to COVID, 25% over budget for the month.  Additionally, our salaries were less, coming in at 5% below budget.  All these helped to create a profit.  Year to date, we are now in the black with a net income of $44,000.

September statistics will not be as favorable because surgery cases will be down due to bed capacity taken by excess COVID acuity patients.  Also salary increases have been implemented.  We are currently working on a plan to change our budget.

“Outpatient cases continue at the Surgery Center and urgent/emergent cases at the hospital,” said Casteel.  “We almost had to completely shut down urgent cases this week due to the surge earlier in the week.  Luckily, we were able to manage, and did not have to cancel urgent cases.”

Bad debts for the month were approved for $616,667.04.

Bloemer presented the capital request for September of $101,804 which was approved for purchases of Cath Lab lights as well as vapotherm and stands for Respiratory Therapy, which is used in the treatment of COVID-19.  The request was made due to the continued use of all machines at HCMC.

Scott Whitby, MD, Chair of the Board of Trustees, discussed and approved a formal resolution to the Henry County Commission to issue bonds on our behalf at $4.5 million for 25 years with a fixed rate of 2.5% for 10 years.  Bloemer discussed in detail the bond resolution and provided an analysis of debt for the organization.  As of today, we have a total of $22.6 million in debt.  Currently, our debt is right at benchmark compared to other hospitals.  The Board also discussed debt structure for the organization.

In new business, Dr. Whitby and Sabra Fuller are both up for reinstatement to the board.  The board approved them to be sent to the county commission to serve another term.

Bloemer provided an update on insurance and risks to the board, discussing each of our policies.

Casteel provided the balanced scorecard report with the board.  She discussed customer service scores, an offer to a general surgeon, as well as cardiology coverage with Saint Thomas with a long term locum for the position.

An organizational report about the HCMC Volunteer Auxiliary with their financial statement was provided to the board.  Currently, the volunteers are not in the facility and the gift shop is closed.  The past 19 months has impacted the group, but we still stay connected with them.  Casteel discussed the Cancer Care Center report with a loss for calendar year 2020 and currently at a loss for 2021 at mid-year.  She also reported on the hyperbaric oxygen program.  Volumes have dropped in 2021 due to COVID-19, but it is still a positive.

The board called an executive session at 7 p.m. following the organizational report.

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 October 28 at 5:30 p.m. at the Henry County Medical Center Board Room, as long as COVID-19 statistics trends downward.

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.