Change in TCU unit at hospital could mean uptick in revenue
By Michael Prochaska
Morgan Memorial Hospital’s (MMH) Transitional Care Unit (TCU), which provides skilled nursing and rehabilitation services, will no longer be licensed as a nursing home entity, as part of a new fiscally driven strategy.
The licensing change could cause a decrease in the number of bed units of the TCU but will not affect the type of patients served or the quality of care, said Megan Morris, director of development and community relations.
New amenities will include increased privacy and in-room access to a restroom.
According to a Q & A document drafted by the hospital, licensure as a Critical Access Hospital allows for a more favorable reimbursement structure than a nursing home licensure.
“This allows us to continue to provide quality health services while also maintaining financial viability for our future,” it states.
The TCU, a 21-bed facility, opened for patient use on May 15, 1998.
Morris said she cannot speak for the hospital’s leadership at the time of the TCU’s initial licensing agreement, but that Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement methodology was “far more favorable” in the late 1990s than it is currently.
The TCU has been described as a “financial drain” on MMH by members of the Hospital Authority after a 2011 Cost Report indicated significant financial loss, but, at the same time, the TCU has been declared an essential and advantageous service.
“We have done a significant cost analysis study on the unit in the past 12 months,” Morris wrote in an e-mail to the Morgan County Citizen. “The amount of money saved is very dependent on the Medicare patient volume in the hospital for the coming year, which is something we anticipate increasing.
In other words, Medicare reimbursements will yield more under the new licensure than under the nursing home licensure.
“Under the current reimbursement structure maintaining financial viability for the unit is not possible,” according to the Q & A document. “We have had outside healthcare reimbursement consultants do extensive research and data shows that when compared to other like facilities, we are doing everything we can to control costs and manage the unit effectively.”
The document states that the transition process began June 1 and could continue through fiscal year 2013, or the end of June 2013, because the hospital would like to increase the number of critical access hospital beds from 20 to 25 and must go through a certification process.
MMH currently holds a license for 20 critical access hospital beds and 21 nursing home beds. Although the number of beds in TCU could decrease, Morris said she does not expect an overcrowded facility because out of the total 41 beds available, average daily census figures have been between 23 and 25 the past several years.
Printed in the July 12, 2012 edition