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Hospital director warns of rising malpractice rates

Charles Nabors, CEO and administrator of Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital, warned that the rising cost of malpractice insurance will soon have an effect on access to health services.

He was speaking June 27 at the regular meeting of the hospital board.

The hospital had an additional $280,000 this year in malpractice insurance premiums. "This was not budgeted for or expected," Nabors said.

Malpractice rates are going up nationally from 50 to 100 percent, he said. "Many physicians are actually reducing their services…doing other things simply because the premiums are prohibitive."

One local physician has discontinued OB (obstetrics) services, he said, but overall services in the area have yet to be effected.

However, if the problem of mounting malpractice rates continues, it will effect access to services.

There was not a quorum present at the meeting so discussion was of an informational nature.

Total operating expenses year-to-date for the hospital are $14.1 million exceeds total operating revenue of almost $13 million, Nabors said.

Uncompensated care for the first eight months of fiscal year 2002 is $1.9 million.

The 2002-2003 budget will be presented in a flexible form with 30-day reviews and adaptations for the entire fiscal year, he said. "During challenging times and times of uncertainty, it is not possible to do a fixed budget." This is the way the hospital has been operating for some time, Nabors said.

A proposal was brought before the board to upgrade the Windows NT software to Windows 2000. Nabors said such an upgrade should satisfy facility needs for five years.

The hospital has already outgrown the software upgrade from 1999, and Microsoft will no longer service their NT software.

Some additional hardware will also be needed.

CDWG won the bid for providing the upgrade at $56,346.

Nabors announced that the patient satisfaction survey for May was 93 percent. The national range is from 75 to 80 percent, he said.

He recognized the work of the Ladies Auxiliary at the hospital and mentioned the landscaping which will soon be done at the front to the building.

Nabors expresses his appreciation to long time senior administrative assistant Polly Haynes who was retiring from the hospital on June 30.

As of press time, the board members were being surveyed to vote on matters presented at June 27 meeting.