Henry County Medical Center Board of Trustees Visited by Senator John Stevens, Discusses COVID-19, Financials, and Quality During July Meeting

Cutline:  Pictured is Senator John Stevens as he discusses with the HCMC Board of Trustees the new grant funding that the state has earmarked to rural residency programs.  HCMC will be one of the first rural hospital facilities to receive this funding.

Paris, TN – Scott Whitby, MD, Board of Trustees Chairman, opened the meeting by introducing Meghan Baumer, one of the new third year medical students from Lincoln Memorial University that began clinical rotations this week at Henry County Medical Center.

Baumer is doing a surgical rotation and she shared with the Board of Trustees her experiences so far in the rotation.  She has already assisted in surgery and has had the opportunity to see how the Mako robot works among other things.

“I am learning so much and it has been a wonderful experience so far,” said Baumer.

Dr. Whitby also introduced Amanda Finley, DO, to the meeting to discuss the medical students and the new rural residency program at HCMC.  She gave an update on the first year of the Rural Residency Program grant and the journey to be able to start the residency program in the Fall 2023.

“I cannot tell you how excited I am to see this program come to fruition,” said Dr. Finley.  “We are excited that this new third year class could potentially be residents at our organization.”

Dr. Finley introduced Senator John Stevens, who she and Lisa Casteel, CEO, met in the fall and were able to work with him to push through legislation to fund more rural residency programs at rural hospitals in the state of Tennessee.  Senator Stevens discussed the grant funding and program to assist rural hospitals.

“What has helped to push this funding forward is the impact of how the population of TN has doubled, but the residency program has stayed stagnant across the state,” said Senator Stevens.  “We need physicians in our rural communities and providing the opportunity in rural communities allows them to see and want to stay once they experience it.  We are excited that Henry County Medical Center will be leading the way in this program.”

Casteel explained the impact of having residents experience rural healthcare before they come to practice here and the ability the program will have to recruit and retain physicians to our community.

“It is exciting times for us at Henry County Medical Center,” said Casteel.  “We are the largest employer in our county and having the ability to be able to offer this opportunity in our community and grow our physician community is a benefit to everyone.”

Casteel provided her CEO report to the Board, discussing the issues with hiring staff.  She explained that physicians ask her daily why we don’t have staff to open the closed floors and fill our vacancies.”

“Recruitment today is not what it used to be,” said Casteel.  “You don’t just get applications in and bring in and hire.  We are competing globally for healthcare positions today.  Current demand is 31% higher than pre-COVID average demand.  There are 21,159 open nursing travel jobs, which is 133% higher than the demand a year ago.  And it’s not just RN positions.”

Casteel also discussed in her report the No Surprises Act addressing surprise medical billing at the federal level, which will go into effect January 1, 2022.  She updated the Board on COVID-19 information.  Hospitalizations have substantially increased in TN, with 97% of the new COVID-19 cases among those who have not been vaccinated.  Henry County, as of July 21, is at a 36.73% vaccination rate.  The positivity rate in Henry County is at 13.7% with an average of 2 to 4 inpatients a day..

“We have received some grant funding to our Rural Health Clinics to help educate people on vaccination,” said Casteel.  “We will be working with education leadership to develop some ideas to get the word out and help get more people vaccinated.”

She also updated the Board on Joint Commission’s visit, clearing HCMC of all conditional level findings.  As an organization, we are continuing to assess and grow our Behavioral Health Services to offer outpatient and telehealth behavioral health services, with a goal to kick off the program in September, which is National Suicide Prevention Month.  As part of our strategic goals and Delta Grant population health initiatives, this is one of the priority areas for our community.  With this push and the Rural Health Network Development grant, which has a focus on growing our telehealth network especially with behavioral health, the time is right to launch this program.  The Paris and Henry County Healthcare Foundation also plans to raise funds for the program during its Casino Night event on Oct. 23.

Casteel also pointed out the recent visit to Saint Thomas to discuss our affiliation, additional services, and strategies.  “Saint Thomas will be placing a locums Cardiologist in our community until we can recruit a full time replacement to the community.”

Additionally, Casteel provided a list of upcoming events and an overview of complaints and grievances.  The Board of Trustees talked in depth about the recruitment issues and the shortage of nurses as well as pay difference that are helping to create the issues.

Brad Bloemer, HCMC CFO, began his report by reviewing the activity and performance summary.  For June, our case mix index was 1.61 with our average length of stay for the fiscal year at 4.29.  Our Debt Service Coverage Ratio was 4.85 which was significantly better than budget of 3.87.  He also reported on our statistic, showcasing the impact of COVID-19 on our numbers, with everything seeing a downward trend, except for surgeries and outpatient visits.

With our fiscal year end, we have a profit of $5.1 million, with much of that due to stimulus funding.  For June, HCMC made a profit of $1.269.978, which was a very good month for the organization.  Profit margin for the year was at 5%.

“Salaries were very high for the month due to the loyalty bonus that was paid out to employees from stimulus funding,” said Bloemer.

Bad debts for the month were approved for $665,001.83

Bloemer presented the capital request for July of $743,480 which was approved for purchases of a wound care medical exam chair, blood bank upgrade, elevator modernization, and a refrigerator at the Healthcare Center.

Additionally, Bloemer provided the investment and interest earnings analysis to the Board of Trustees.

Neely Ashby, Chief Nursing Officer/Chief Operations Officer, gave the quarterly quality report.

“The goal of quality is to create alignment with clinicians and care teams to inspire quality healthcare,” said Ashby.  “The word that stands out is inspire and that has been hard over the last 18 months, but our team has dug deep to do just that.”

Currently, HCMC is a 4 star facility in the CMS Star Rating.  The Cauti rate is still at 0.  All cause readmissions is currently at 9%, down from 14.5% last quarter and better than the CMS baseline of 20.30%.  Additionally, our HCAHPS overall hospital rating is 75.27, which is higher than top box and our goal.  Our ED Press Ganey overall rating is currently at 67.52, which is up from the last quarter and higher than our top box score of 67.26, which has never occurred.

Ashby also provided some quality benchmarking for some of the ancillaries that aren’t typically covered.  The average days to heal for our Center for Wound Healing is at 67, with the national average at 68.  Both inpatient and outpatient physical therapy saw growth and improvement with less full time employees.  Respiratory Therapy also saw an increase from prior year in patient visits during April and May. Sepsis Mortality has also improved from 11% in 2019 to 7% in 2020 and 2021.

“We have a lot of blue and green on our charts for quality metrics,” said Ashby.  “Our VTE, stroke, psychiatric, perinatal mother, and surgical quality outcomes are all at excellent or best possible score and this is the first time this has ever happened.”

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 August 26 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.