Tombigbee Healthcare looks at numbers

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 3, 2005

Out of the 11 months of the 2005 fiscal year, the Tombigbee Healthcare Authority (THA) had only its second month where expenses were greater than revenue.

At the THA board meeting Thursday, Mike Marshall, CEO and Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital administrator, reported a loss of $167,413 for, but the THA showed a profit for the year of $2.7 million.

The loss in August came from a lower-than-budgeted in-patient census along with a longer length of stay, Marshall said.

Email newsletter signup

Outpatient admissions, on the other hand, were much higher than expected.

Raises for the hospital staff “were extremely well received,” Marshall said, and the higher pay was directly responsible for keeping at least two registered nurses on staff.

Marshall said that in an effort to recruit more nurses, the hospital has sent out 1,700 invitations to RNs recognized by the state to attend a reception on October 12. Two sessions are planned to accommodate nurses on all shifts.

“The nursing situation in the state is getting critical,” he told the board, and it may be necessary to begin looking outside of the United States for qualified nurses. A recent survey showed 75 percent of all the nurses in the state are located in the major cities, leaving very few for the rural areas.

Of the nurses in Hale County, he said, 78 percent work in Tuscaloosa. Marshall is hoping the recruitment will draw interest from nurses in Hale, Greene and Sumter counties especially.

After a lengthy wait and several opening delays, the hospital’s sleep lab is expected to accept its first patient on Monday. One of the staff members is serving as a test lab patient this week to make sure all the equipment and personnel is ready, Marshall said.

He reported at least 50 patients are on the list to be tested in the sleep lab.

The hospital has passed both the state physical and Medicare inspections to open the geriatric behavioral health in-patient clinic, also known as the Geri-Psych unit, he continued.

The THA is cleaning up and preparing the building to house a clinic in Livingston, which will be manned by Drs. Ronnie Chu and Alex Curtis each weekday for half a day, Marshall said.

A site still is being sought to house an EMS unit in Sweet Water.

Recently the hospital purchased seven automated drug dispensing units. The response from the staff has been positive. The board unanimously voted to purchase two more machines, one for each operating room, at a cost of $90,929.88.

“I’ve gotten real good feedback from everyone whose used it,” said Dr. Maurice Fitz-Gerald, board chair.

In preparing the budget for the new fiscal year, Marshall said each of the department heads was asked to submit a “wish list.” This year the list came back with requests of $3.6 million. Marshall said the budget probably will include about $1.6 million in capital purchases, including a replacement CAT scan.

Donna Thornton, an LPN at the hospital, has presented a suggestion for a cost-savings contest. Marshall said the idea is so good that it will not be a contest. Instead, any employee who comes up with a demonstrable idea to save the hospital money will be awarded a percentage of the savings.

Marshall also reported that Hurricane Katrina has no effect on the hospital. The facility treated 30 in-patients and 70 out-patients who need medical assistance. The hospital’s cafeteria also fed three meals a day to the evacuees housed at the First Baptist Church.

Dr. John McLennon will be the new chief of staff of the hospital, and Dr. M.S. Brasfield will serve as the medical staff secretary.

The board approved the six-month initial appointment of Dr. Ronald Waters, radiology, to the consulting staff.

Temporary privileges were awarded to Dr. Frank Lacina, emergency room, and Dr. Patrick Bruce Atkins, Geriatric Behavioral Health, courtesy staff.