New doctors, revamped bills, and other changes dominate hospital board meeting

Debra Moore
Staff Writer


Confusing and untimely billings continue to be the No. 1 complaint that hospital board members receive, but that could change soon.

“Our goal is to produce a statement with a balance during the business cycle,” Chief Financial Officer Cindy Crosslin told directors during the Plumas District Hospital board meeting Feb. 6.

Crosslin explained that hospital staff bills insurance companies and Medicare before a bill reflecting the balance due is sent to the patient. That can mean months of lag time between a doctor or hospital visit and when the patient sees a bill for the service. The new bill will be designed to be easier to decipher.

Director Kathy Price asked to see an example of the new format before it is sent to patients, but she and the other directors were pleased that improvements are planned.


Emergency department

Improvements are also in store for the hospital’s emergency department. Until major renovations can occur, the office and treatment rooms will receive a facelift.

“They really need paint and a spruce-up,” CEO Doug Lafferty said.

Improvements have already been completed at Quincy Family Medicine to accommodate another physician arriving this summer and increased hours for specialists such as orthopedist Dr. John Foley.


Spring health fair

The spring health fair will be held May 5 – 8, and this year will offer some additional screenings and include a new feature.

In addition to the usual blood draws and the option for bone density checks, the hospital is offering vascular and diabetes screenings.

Also new this year, existing patients’ test results will automatically be added to their medical chart.

“We want to be proactive on our end,” Lafferty said.

In the past tests were reviewed by a nurse and then sent directly to the patient. If the nurse noticed something that might require follow-up, the patient would be called, but it was up to the patient to notify his or her physician.

“That’s a big step for us to have it get to the charts,” Director John Kimmel said.

Lafferty is expecting 400 to 500 people to attend the spring health fair.


Foundation celebrates good year

Board chairman Bill Wickman reported that the hospital’s foundation “had its best year ever.”

During the donation drive, the foundation received 80 gifts totaling more than $32,000.

“We made a concerted effort in the Indian Valley this year,” Wickman said. “We made a lot more personal requests.”

Director John Kimmel said he had been working with local attorneys to include Plumas District Hospital Foundation as an option when they are helping clients write their wills.

“I created a list of local charities,” Kimmel said.

One of the foundation’s annual fundraisers, Denim & Diamonds, is scheduled for March 22.


Meeting time change

The hospital will now conduct its monthly board of directors meetings at 4:30 p.m. on the first Thursday of the month.

This is just a half-hour earlier than the current start time of 5 p.m. Board chairman Bill Wickman said he made the request to help accommodate the hospital’s desire to minimize overtime pay. The meetings require some hourly paid staff to attend.

Wickman will remain chairman of the board for a second year as has been the board’s tradition, and Price will continue as secretary. The board elected Kimmel to the new position of vice chairman.


Measure A Oversight Committee

The board appointed Dennis Clemens to serve on the Measure A Oversight Committee. Clemens regularly attends the hospital board meetings.


Flu update

Chief Nursing Officer Dan Schuessler reported that there have been five cases of flu at Plumas District Hospital, with two of them occurring in employees. Four tested positively for H1N1; the fifth wasn’t tested.

He told the board that as of Jan. 31, 147 flu deaths were reported in California, compared to 14 at the same time last year.

“It’s hitting hard again,” Schuessler said.

The day after the board meeting, the public health department reported the first flu death in Plumas County: an elderly individual with many underlying health conditions.

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