Financial outlook positive at EPHC

The Eastern Plumas Health Care District Board of Directors held its regular meeting Thursday, June 20, with a full room and a new set of table and chairs, donated by Plumas Bank, according to Director Gail McGrath, who opened the meeting with the approval of the consent calendar.

CEO Todd Plimpton noted that the EPHC Auxiliary had netted over $10,000 in May, and commented on the new Portola Skilled Nursing Facility floor. “The auxiliary is in great shape, really motivated with great volunteers,” Plimpton said.

McGrath noted that the Nifty Thrifty and Auxiliary proceeds go largely to the hospital. However, a new paid manager has been hired at the thrift store. “It’s been very helpful,” McGrath said.

Chief of Staff Dr. Eric Bugna smiled and noted that in an unofficial poll of practitioners at EPHC, all seemed to be “pretty darn happy,” and went on to briefly touch on the topic of measles, noting that as of April, Plumas County has had zero cases of measles.

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Finance

Dr. Paul Swanson then gave the finance committee report, stating that there had been an $8.8 million net income for the month of May, due to large intergovernmental transfers, or IGTs. This includes $675,000 received for PRIME IGT, and $8,272,199 in HQAF5 and Rate Range IGTs. “Revenue is up across the board,” Swanson said. “When looking at the budget, they key thing is that it has been done carefully and conservatively.” Swanson recommended that the 2019-2020 budget be approved.

Site work

McGrath then moved on to discuss Resolution 275, a contract award for a slurry seal project on the parking lot and partially down the front driveway of the hospital. The contract was awarded to Sierra Nevada Contractors (SNC), after being the only business to submit a bid for the project. “SNC does a very nice job,” McGrath commented.

The project will be divided into three phases. Potholes will be filled and crack seal applied. Next, will come concrete and curb work, with the slurry seal and restriping to finish. More handicap accessible parking spaces will also be added.

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The work is scheduled to be completed by September, with the bulk of work to be done on weekends in an attempt to minimize impact on staff and patients at EPHC during that time.

Facilities Director Stan Peiler reminded the room that due to his position as member of the Portola City Council, he would not be involved in the road portion of the project to avoid any conflict of interest, with Operations Coordinator Ryan Nowling taking over that part of the project. With some conversation, the board approved the award of the contract by roll call vote.

Nursing

Chief Nursing Officer Sharon DiNicholas reported that nursing is extremely busy in all areas, and staffing is a key focal point. Both the Portola and Loyalton Skilled Nursing Facilities are operating with more residents. The Portola SNF is full at 27; the Loyalton SNF has 28 and a maximum capacity of 39. More staff is needed to operate at full capacity.

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“There is a six-patient waiting list with people that call me every day to see if we have space,” DiNicholas said. “On a positive note, Feather River College is graduating 25 new LVNs on the 29 of June.” EPHC provided an LVN opportunity outreach to the class, with several in the class reportedly applying on the spot.

DiNicholas also noted that EPHC has continued to work with the California Board of Nursing to secure an LVN Paramedic program in conjunction with Butte College. “We need people that want to serve this community,” stressed DiNicholas.

Outpatient therapy has been rolled out quietly, with a new physical therapy assistant hired to assist in the effort. DiNicholas also commented on EPHC’s efforts to look into the 340B program to see if it is a good fit for the needs of the community.

Pharmacy

Plimpton explained that the 340B program would allow EPHC to provide prescriptive services to patients in the community or to EPHC employees at significantly reduced rates, as well as potentially creating an opportunity to open a pharmacy in Loyalton. “We are sincerely thinking of re-opening that pharmacy in Loyalton,” Plimpton said.

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Clinics

Clinic Director Rhonda Grandi reported that since the first of the year, there had been 242 new patients, which averages to about two new patients per day.

The Pine Street Clinic will be closed, and the provider moved to the Portola clinic Sept. 3. Grandi commented that it should be a good change. Grandi also spoke about the review and revamp of the long-term controlled substance policy, with a goal to align the practice in the organization and put forth a policy with a large amount of scrutiny on it.

It was also noted that the final phase of the clinic remodel in Portola was nearly complete, with an open house planned toward the end of August.

Staff

Human Resources Director Lori Tange noted that she had only been with EPHC for six weeks, but as she is learning her role, the focus is on staffing.

“There are some challenges there,” Tange said. “Down the line, we will be focusing more on training with managers and staff to provide the best support possible for our employees.”

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Tange noted that with growth comes some uncertainty and emphasized that HR is there to support employees in any way possible. She also said that EPHC will be performing salary reviews to ensure that it is staying competitive in the current job market.

Swanson commented that he has felt that the overall morale of the hospital has improved this year, adding, “I do feel that the key catalyst has been our new CEO.”

Bottom line

Chief Financial Officer Katherine Pairish spoke to the May financial statements at EPHC, with a net income in the amount of $8,804,013. Gross revenue came in at $3.6 million, with inpatient revenue averaging around $359,000.

Total operating expenses for May were $2.5 million, with repairs and maintenance costs up $26,000 over May 2018 due to continued improvements district-wide.

Pairish noted that the gross accounts receivable ended the month at $5.3 million, adding, “This is excellent, we’re doing very well.”

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Pairish then went on to comment on the 2019-2020 budget, saying, “The process [of creating the budget] this year was much more complicated, but also more thorough, and I feel really good about this budget. The budget we are presenting is realistic, and we took a conservative approach to expense projections as we are continuing to work on improvements campus-wide, along with a lift in IT.”

The budget included items such as $50,000 set aside for training in various departments and $33,742 for Dentrix software. Pairish also commented on an ambulance grant in the amount of $200,000, with $50,000 to come from the hospital district. “The goal is to have a fleet of top line ambulances,” Plimpton noted.

With some further discussion, the board moved to approve the budget unanimously, and Plimpton closed the meeting with his report.

CEO report

“The last 45 days have been very invigorating,” Plimpton said. “I want to congratulate Stan Peiler, because engineering has done monkey flips with the ongoing maintenance. I also want to thank Rick and his team at IT.”

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Plimpton commented that he felt there was more process improvement, and full leadership engagement.

He also noted plans to build out acute, as well as a concept workup on a build out at the Loyalton SNF, saying, “Loyalton is a growth area. Within the next five to six years, we’ve got do something about Loyalton or we’re going to lose that SNF. We need to think about our 10- to 20-year projections when planning.”

“We’re growing so fast, and success brings challenges,” DiNicholas commented. “We need to build in a way that makes sense, whether that be more pods or a dementia unit.”

Plimpton brought forward a motion to waive the conflict of interest for attorney Steve Gross, who serves both the City of Portola and EPHC in a legal capacity. Due to the contract involving the road, which is owned by both the hospital and the city, the waiver was approved.

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The next monthly meeting of the board of directors will be held Thursday, July 25, at the EPHC Education Center at 9:30 a.m.