EPHC goes wireless, looks to future

The Eastern Plumas Health Care Board of Directors held its regular meeting the morning of Thursday, Feb. 27, with all board members in attendance.

Board Chair Gail McGrath opened the meeting with roll call, and with no public comment rapidly moved to address the consent calendar.

The calendar included regular items such as the agenda and meeting minutes, as well as the approval of Resolution of Surplus Property, a 1999 Ford F-350 ambulance no longer used. With unanimous approval by roll call vote, McGrath went on to give the auxiliary report.

“For the month of January, the auxiliary made nearly $12,000, with the net profit at almost $5,000,” McGrath said. “Things are humming right along at the Nifty Thrifty.”

Chief of Staff Eric Bugna commented that he had “played hooky” for the last month and had been screened for the novel coronavirus on his travels. “It raises questions about how bad the situation really is,” Bugna said. “I think it’s an open question.”

McGrath commented that the hospital is ready, adding, “There’s a good chance that we’ll see some action.”

Clinic Outpatient Supervisor Shawna Leal then updated the board on the preparations being undertaken by the hospital as staff gears up to bring a three-year customer excellence program to EPHC in the coming year.

“Our goal is to become a five-star facility, providing excellence to patients in the community,” Leal said. “The process is in the beginning stages, but it’s really exciting!” The program will come from the Custom Learning Center by Brian Lee.

HR Director Lori Tange reported that there had been 17 new hires at EPHC in the new year, with some full-time employees and some per diem employees. Tange also noted that the intranet improvement project had kicked off, with goals to create an easily accessible platform for employees, sunsetting the old intranet by May.

Potential coronavirus outbreak

The question of protocol for a potential outbreak of novel coronavirus was addressed, with staff noting that EPHC is currently complying with all CDC guidelines and regulations.

Leal noted that patients with flu-like symptoms are being handled very carefully, with Donna Dorsey adding that the potential for the novel coronavirus is being handled in much the same way as the pandemic flu.

McGrath stated, “It’s in everybody’s best interests to take this seriously, because this thing moves pretty quickly.”

Financials

Chief Financial Officer Katherine Pairish reported on the finances for January 2020, and for the seven months ended Jan. 31, EPHC posted $24,640,631 in gross revenue.

Year-to-date net patient revenue after contractual adjustments and allowances was $15,117,758, and year to date net loss came in at $810,312, with budgeted net loss at $1,797,010.

For the month of January, gross patient revenue was over budget by $380,099 and a net profit in the amount of $175,265 was posted. This was mainly due to the receipt of a grant from Anthem in the amount of $60,000, combined with an ambulance grant of $145,000.

“Expenses are overall going up less than revenues, which is good,” Pairish said. She went on to highlight the need to be fiscally conservative in an effort to commit to an IGT that could potentially be used to fund $7,000,000 by March 2021 at Eastern Plumas.

Loyalton

It was reported that three new employees had been hired in Loyalton, and that morale has been steadily improving amongst staff. There is also a need for more nurses at the Loyalton campus. It was also noted that there is an opening for a new medical director at the Loyalton Skilled Nursing Facility.

Wireless connections

Rick Boyd of the I.T. department reported on the current state of wireless affairs at EPHC, with public and medical wireless internet now active at the hospital and clinic at the Portola campus, as well as wireless glucose meters at the main campus.

Boyd also noted that medical wireless had been added to the Loyalton clinic, and that it was definitely up for future improvements. “There is also a plan to put signal boosters on four ambulances,” Boyd added.

“Loyalton’s community is really suffering without reliable internet.”

Boyd noted that the coronavirus has certainly been affecting the IT department, saying, “Everything is made in China. There are currently one to two-month delays on parts and laptops, pretty much everything manufactured in China.”

Town Hall meetings

CEO Jayne O’Flanagan then updated the board on the recent town hall meetings that had been held to give employees a chance to interact and ask questions, noting that they had been very well received thus far and surprisingly well attended.

“The education center is now officially the rehabilitation center,” O’Flanagan said. She also noted that there were not currently any implementation plans for the new logo, due to a meeting with Patty Clawson of Big Fish Creations out of Graeagle.

“In addition to the fact that there is no budget for a new logo, we rediscovered that there is a story behind the logo that EPHC currently has, and that the logo was designed by a man out of Graeagle named David Alcorn, who is known for designing the North Face brand logo,” O’Flanagan said.

The hospital plans to move forward with Big Fish Creations in future endeavors to update the website, social media and more.

Updating policies

The board then briefly tackled annual policy reviews on such items as clinic policies, infection prevention and skilled nursing policies. After some discussion, all voted to approve the policies unanimously.

The board discussed the opening of the outpatient rehabilitation center with much anticipation, noting that the focus must always be on patient care. It was also noted that the board should give thought to the future, with goals to potentially expand into a future rehabilitation building that would be built as an addition near the clinic within the next two years.

The next meeting of the board of directors of EPHC is March 26 at the district’s Clinic Conference Room located at 480 1st Ave., Portola. For more information, call 832-6564 or visit ephc.org.

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