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Audits, billing and finance dominate hospital meeting

Plumas Hospital District received a glowing audit report that lauded not only its “materially accurate, unqualified, clean opinion,” but noted that back in 2016, the district had 16.3 days cash on hand, and now it has 113 days. That means if no other funding were to come in, the hospital could survive for that number of days.

The hospital’s board of directors received the news during its monthly meeting March 7.

The audit also noted that the district’s net position increased from $10 million to $13 million and in-patient days increased by 300.

One area that the district could improve is in implementing greater segregation of duties when it comes to payroll, which its new payroll software should help rectify.

“Overall, it’s pretty generally positive,” said Caleb Johnson, the district’s chief financial officer. “Cash is up; liabilities are down, and our investment in equipment is high.”

Line of credit

The hospital district has $4.3 million in cash, but is working on a line of credit with Plumas Bank so that it can comfortably participate in the next IGT (intergovernmental transfer) without depleting reserves.

The timing of the $1.99 million payment to participate in the IGT comes during a month when there are three payrolls instead of two ($400,000 each payroll) and when Medicare is taking back funds that it says were overpaid to the district. While the district is fighting the total amount, some money will need to be returned.

Modular building purchase

In an effort to create more space within the hospital, the district is considering leasing a 520-square-foot building to house respiratory therapy. Darren Beatty, who is responsible for special projects, said the new building would be located between the area that houses the CT scanner and the MRI truck when it visits.

Beatty presented a five-year lease at a cost of $63,000. While the directors agreed that the extra space is warranted, they asked him to check with other companies to ensure that the bid was competitive.

Leadership conference

Five members of the district’s leadership team attended a training session in Florida conducted by the Studer Group, an organization that works with entities “to create a culture of excellence through healthcare coaching and cultural transformation.”

Dr. Mark Satterfield, who is a board member and emergency room physician, said that he attended the portions that were specific to physicians and a point that resonated with him was the “patient’s perception of quality of care affects their outcome.”

“It was a really, really good conference and great for team building,” said Tiffany Leonhardt, the hospital’s director of patient experience and staff development, who also attended the event.

Billing

“If they call us, we can work with them,” said John Kimmel, a hospital district director, in addressing patients who have unpaid bills.

When the district moved all of its billing in house, it also gave patients more time to pay those bills, but the clock is ticking.

Caleb Johnson, the chief financial officer, explained that a statement would be sent out every 30 days, and then at 120 days a red statement would be sent advising the patient that it would be sent to a collection agency in 14 days.

The district is getting close to sending out red statements, with as many as 900 individuals and 2,500 accounts worth $600,000 impacted.

It doesn’t mean that the accounts must be paid in full at that point, but some contact with the billing department must have been made so that a plan could be made for payment.

That’s why Kimmel said it is imperative that patients call rather than ignore the notices.

Wilderness conference

Dr. Jeff Kepple announced that the second annual Sierra Nevada Conservation and Wilderness Medicine Conference would be held from May 30 through June 2.

He said organizers are listening to the results of a survey conducted after last year’s conference and are making some changes from ensuring that there is more built-in break time to turning off the college’s tennis court lights when attendees are trying to sleep in the camping area.

A portion of this year’s conference will feature a panel discussion on catastrophic wildfire that will focus on topics ranging from mental health to air quality. “The emphasis will be on health and human impacts,” he said.

Merger

Board president Valerie Flanigan reported that the merger with the Indian Valley Health Care District is proceeding through the LAFCo process and she expects that a 21-day public notice would be published around May 1, which is one of the final steps in the process.

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