VMH chooses to close Monona Clinic due to low patient volume, experiences overall positive trends for the month of November

by Brianne Eilers

The month of November ended on a fairly positive note for Veterans Memorial Hospital (VMH) in Waukon. VMH Administrator Mike Myers noted that the hospital will show a $52 loss for the month of November. He also noted that the revenue areas for the hospital have been changing.

“Seventy percent of our revenue is not outpatient,” Myers said. “I think when I came here twenty years ago, outpatient was forty percent at the most, maybe mid-thirties.”

Inpatient revenue was down 15% percent, while outpatient was up seven percent. Gross patient revenue was up 1.1% and total expenses were down 2.6%. Myers also noted that all outpatient areas, other than Emergency Room (ER) visits, were up, and MRIs were down slightly. Deliveries are down. Myers noted that budgeting for the upcoming year will be a challenge due to the fact that there are changes in the physicians and providers.

The hospital’s Monona Clinic has been closed. Myers noted that the main reason that they chose to close the clinic was because it just couldn’t get the patient volume needed to fund operations.

“You need to see 15 or 16 people a day and we never hit that average,” Myers explained. He noted that while sometimes the clinic was very busy, they just never saw that consistently.

“It’s a difficult thing,” Myers said. “I appreciate the efforts of all the employees. They worked hard to make people feel welcome and cared for, but at the end of the day, there just wasn’t enough volume to support it.”

The hospital is also beginning its budgeting process and will be taking into account the fact that some physicians are going to be gone and there will be changes in obstetrics (OB) providers. “We’re going to take a really long look at what our budget will look like when we put it together,” Myers said.

In January, Myers anticipates VMH will begin the 340B program for medication. The hospital is also going to be working on its charge master project, which it will be making public in 2019. The hospital staff is also working towards transitioning to bar coding for patients, as is used in hospitals in La Crosse, WI and Rochester, MN.

On the Federal level, Myers noted that Medicare is continuing to look at Critical Access Hospitals and swing bed differently than other hospitals. Myers also noted that VMH will be signing a contract with Centene, the company that replaced AmeriHealth.

The lab at the hospital has been through its CLIA Inspection and had no deficiencies. Myers noted that this was the lab’s first inspection with a Gundersen pathologist being the oversight physician. Myers also noted that the VMH lab hasn’t had any deficiencies for quite some time. “The inspector said it’s pretty rare that she has labs that go as long as we have without a deficiency,” Myers said. “So that’s a tribute to the lab personnel.”

VMH also continues to work on its mental health room project. They need to get some quotes for the monitoring system.

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