Hospital moves forward on adult psych project

Published 8:30 am Monday, August 31, 2015

The Tombigbee Healthcare Authority Board Thursday night approved a measure that will allow Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital to move forward with a project to add an adult psychiatry ward.
Hospital officials are looking to add a 10-bed adult psych ward by January 1. The board will be filing an application with USDA for a $1 million loan for construction of the project.
“All of the information we have about adding an adult psych program is very positive,” said BWWMH CEO Arthur Evans. “This will provide a health service that is needed in our community and will benefit the bottom line of the hospital.”
The hospital currently has a 10-bed geriatric psych unit for those 65 and older. The adult psych unit would service those 18 to 65.
“We received a certificate of need from the state in April, which basically means we are not duplicating a health service that is already being provided,” Evans said.
Evans added that adding the psych unit in Demopolis is beneficial at this time as some healthcare providers may be making cuts to their similar programs.
“With some of the financial decisions being made across the state, some mental health services are being eliminated. With fewer beds, there is some scrambling to find places for these patients. This is an opportunity for us to help our own community, and those from outside, to have a place to be treated,” Evans said.
Ron Sparks, director of the Alabama Rural Development Office, as well as USDA District Director Nivory Gordon are each supporting the plan. Sparks chairs a 30-person task force on rural health care and Gordon is assisting the THA board with the loan process.
Hospital officials are also working to develop a 2016 budget that will be presented to the THA board in either September or October, according to Evans.
“We’ll be meeting throughout the coming moth to iron out details and develop a budget and an operation plan for the coming year,” he said.
The hospital is now working under a new structure that took effect in August. Officials streamlined operations to include three divisions: patient care services, clinical and community, and fiscal services.
“The structure is now in place and the hospital is more streamlined than ever before. Everyone has bought in and we are working more efficiently and effectively,” Evans said.
Other items discussed at the THA board meeting included:
• received new reimbursement rates from Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Alabama.
“It looks that reimbursements will be very positive for the hospital,” Evans said.
• Evans told the board the hospital will be making a $15,000 upgrade to the its CT scan. The upgrades are required to meet federal regulations that call for scanner to have the capability to monitor radiation dosage for all patients.
“The hospital has a state-of-the-art CT scan and this will make it even better. This investment is the right thing to do for our patients,” Evans said.
• The hospital board is reviewing its plans related to physician recruitment.
“We want to continue attracting physicians to this community. We love Demopolis and feel like we have a lot to offer and we want to attract physicians who feel the same way,” Evans said.
• Evans also said he and others plan to contact legislators regarding possible cuts to Medicaid.
“Any cut to Medicaid effects everyone in the state,” he said.