On Tuesday night, July 24th, the Claiborne County Hospital Board reviewed the hospital's financial report for the fiscal year that ended on July 30th of this year.
The good news is that all operating units within the hospital's budget except one operated with a slight profit (and within budgetary guidelines) during the last year. For budget purposes, an operating entity is a functional unit within the hospital structure. These units include organizations such as the nursing home, emergency medical services, and home health care operations. During the last year, the hospital also reduced its debt by about $300,000.
Emergency Medical services was the only unit whose operating expenses exceeded revenue. This was caused by an unexpected increase in maintenance and supply costs for several older ambulances. After discussion, the Capital Improvements Committee was directed to investigate the costs for replacing part for the aging ambulance fleet.
The nursing home was also in the black for the year with an average occupancy rate of 87 (out of 98 bed spaces). Board members and hospital administration were pleased with the increased occupancy rate but concerned with the increase in turnover rate and time to wait for space in the nursing home. The increase in turnover rate was attributed to the success in the hospitals Home Health Services and Rehabilitation Programs. These successful programs helps get patients out of the more expensive nursing care setting and back home while still providing necessary care.
After a lengthy review of each section of the report, the annual report was approved unanimously by role call vote.
The Capital Improvements Committee reported that the hospital had the opportunity to upgrade their anesthesia machines at significant savings if they replaced each of the operating theaters' machines at one time instead of incrementally. The savings would be realized by joining several other hospitals in a bulk purchase. The committee also learned that one other hospital using the same older equipment had begun to experience delays in repair of the older equipment. Dr. Carroll Rose spoke up for the benefits of equipment standardization and the patient impacts if surgery had to be delayed. After discussion of the budget impacts, the request for the new capital expenditure (anesthesia machines) was approved.
The board also approved a recommendation to investigate the hiring of a new surgeon with roots in the local area. Tim Brown, the hospital administrator was authorized to begin negotiating the recruitment of another surgeon.
As part of the hospital administrator's report, Brown noted that he had spoken with Lincoln Memorial University about opportunities to coordinate nursing training at the hospital and had also met with DeRoyal executives. Both of these organizations have played key roles in the community's health care and deserve the boards' acknowledgement and thanks for their continued support for the hospital and Claiborne County.
In a similar vein, Brown touched briefly upon the golf scramble sponsored by the Claiborne County Healthcare Foundation. Corporate and individual support for the golf tournament is higher than the previous year. Proceeds from the golf tournament are going to support the Baker Cancer Center in Harrogate. (For information about playing in the Sept. 23rd tournament at Woodlake Golf Club or corporate or individual sponsorship, please contact Mary Smith at the Claiborne County Healthcare Foundation at (423) 526-2201 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The Healthcare Foundation is a non-profit organization that supports community healthcare needs.