September proves to be strong financial month for Veterans Memorial Hospital

by Brianne Eilers

September ended on a positive financial note for Veterans Memorial  Hospital (VMH) in Waukon, with VMH administrator Mike Myers describing it as a "pretty good month." He further noted, "The amazing thing is, it puts us at about $1,000 over what we had budgeted to be at."
Currently, VMH has a 2.1% profit margin, and year-to-date, the hospital has a bottom line of $82,198. Skilled patient days were up 7.5% and deliveries were up 15.8% for September, compared to this same time last year. Total surgeries were also up, 11.5%. Myers also pointed out that the areas of cardiac rehab and outpatient physical therapy were both down, due in part to the requirement that many procedures now need pre-authorization from insurance providers. Myers also said that VMH has advertised for and will be interviewing for a position that will deal with pre-authorization of services.
The total operating budget for VMH during the month of September was down 0.4%, but total expenses were also down 0.5%. Cash reserves are down to $2,267,000, and that is because the hospital has been paying cash for purchases that they have been making recently. The number of days in accounts receivable is up to 99.0, due to a “glitch” in the Medicaid site, and VMH is working to get that corrected so it reflects accurately. Myers noted that October has been a good month, and the hospital is anticipating another profitable month.
Myers also discussed Ebola, and how the hospital is prepared, in the event that someone should ever come to VMH with symptoms. With all of the media coverage that the disease has recently been getting, concerns among the public are growing regarding how prepared local medical facilities are, in the event something should happen. Myers noted that VMH does have the equipment to test for the disease, and should they ever identify that a patient has Ebola or is suspected to have Ebola, the procedure would be to transport them to a larger facility for treatment, which at this time would be in Nebraska.
VMH does have an “Ebola cart” and they know what questions to ask to help with a quicker diagnosis. Myers also noted that the University of Iowa hospital is working on an Ebola protocol as well, but doesn’t have it in place yet. He noted that there are many protocols in place already, such as if blood is drawn from a patient and analyzed, those pieces of equipment are to be immediately destroyed.

In other matters, VMH has been working on purchasing items through the approved Capital Budget, including a new washer and some floor items for housekeeping. The Electronic Medical Records are moving forward as well, and Myers said VMH has been in contact with the company regarding issues that come up. Myers noted that the medical staff and all staff has been very patient with this process, and that is the key.
Myers also said that with the requirement to pre-authorize many procedures now, VMH is advertising to fill a position dedicated to getting that documentation done. He said that a lot of time is spent on phone calls and things to get all of the proper paperwork and documentation taken care of.