Hospital paying down debt
By Tara DeRock Mahoney
Senior Staff Writer
Morgan Memorial Hospital is making strong use of the $1 million subsidy that it receives from the county each year.
“We’re paying down our debt at a rate of about $35,000 per month, which is very good,” said Hospital Authority treasurer John Milliken at the group’s regular meeting last Thursday. “We’re spending about $45,000 each month on equipment and improvements…we’re using nearly the entire county subsidy [of approximately $80,000 per month] to pay down debt and improve the hospital, month after month after month.”
Milliken stated that the hospital is currently operating from a strong cash position, and enjoys a good relationship with its supply vendors.
“We’re paying our accounts promptly, just as soon as they come in,” said Milliken.
The authority discussed the results of a recent physician recruitment subcommittee meeting, in which the recommendation was reached to try and recruit another pediatrician and possibly a surgeon to the county. The authority may contract with a firm that specializes in physician recruitment for an investment of approximately $6,000-$9,000.
“That’s fairly typical for a physician recruitment firm,” said hospital CEO H.D. Cannington. If the board proceeds with such a plan, a firm will be retained to recruit only a pediatrician at this time. A physician-needs assessment completed for the community in 2005 by Stroudwater and Associates is the basis for the recruitment efforts; the physician needs articulated in that report are based on county population figures.
Patient satisfaction with hospital stays remains high, report staff members, with an overall score on outpatient questionnaires of 4.8 out of a possible five points. Eighty-four percent of the hospital’s scores are “fives” on the questionnaires; nationally, many of the best hospitals typically receive only 75 percent of “fives,” according to staff reports.
The hospital continues to take seriously the national upswing of staphylococcus infections, noting that no one has contracted such an infection at Morgan Memorial, although the hospital has treated patients who contracted the bacteria elsewhere, according to Cannington. The hospital has removed patient pitchers for ice water from rooms after identifying these as potential vectors for infection; the hospital has also gone to “no-touch” ice machines capable of hygienically dispensing ice for patients without being touched by staff.
Finally, Cannington reported that the hospital is on track to receive as much as $448,000 from the state’s Indigent Care Trust Fund, up from $340,000 last year. Hospital officials were relieved to learn that this money should be disbursed as usual, as recent upheavals within Grady Hospital in Atlanta could have upset this disbursement.
“This is a victory for rural hospitals, and a victory for Morgan Memorial Hospital,” said Cannington.