Veterans Memorial Hospital reports strong May

by Brianne Eilers

The month of May was a strong month financially at Veterans Memorial Hospital (VMH) in Waukon. VMH Administrator Mike Myers noted that skilled patient days were up 13.7% for the month, but acute patient days were down 12.3%. Deliveries were also down 10.1% from this time last year, but Myers pointed out that last year was a very strong year for the number of births at VMH. Other areas seeing some growth were Emergency Room visits, up 9.7%; Cardiac Rehabiltation, up 36.6%; Outpatient MRI, up 7.4%; Outpatient Radiology, up 8.1%; and Outpatient Lab, up 11.1%.
Myers also explained that expenses tracked along with the revenue, and that the end result was an $80,517 profit for the hospital. Year-to-date, VMH has a profit of $463,403, which translates to a 3.1% profit margin. "Cash reserves remain stable and days in AR (Accounts Receivable) are still up," Myers said, further stating that staff is working on getting the number of days in AR down. "Some of that is a back-log of charts not finished, and we've been working on that."
The hospital received data from its 11-month cost report to determine the hospital's financial position relative to Medicare, which is an annual occurrence. "We don't see any major changes to where our bottom line is right now," Myers said. The final audit will happen in July-August.
In other matters, the transition of therapy staff from a contracted service to employee status will be effective July 1, 2015, and Myers noted that is going smoothly. "We've appreciated the partnership with Rehab Visions. They have been a fine company to partner with," Myers said.
The MRI facility has been moved to its permanent cement pad. Myers noted that this move will allow the hospital to get a couple more parking spots from that space. He said they realize there are parking issues around the hospital. Myers and Jim Ryan from the hospital's facility maintenance department attended a recent Waukon City Council meeting to discuss how to improve parking around the area. Myers, Ryan and two members of the City Council will be looking into possible solutions. They are working on a solution to bring as many as 20 additional parking spots to the area around VMH.
The hospital has also finished up the corrective action needed after the State Fire Marshal's survey a couple months ago. Bids have been finalized for work on Medical Records. Looking to other projects that the hospital would like to undertake in order to enhance services, and considering the growth in the area of Emergency Room (ER) visits, VMH is looking at ways to make for a better patient flow and maintain privacy of patients in the ER area. The hospital has experienced a growth in volume of ER patients, and there are specialists who also use that area for their clinics. The hospital would like to consider present needs, as well as anticipate future needs. Radiology staff members have completed their training and are now doing MRIs.
Myers also noted that Iowa Senator Charles Grassley announced last week a plan to help protect rural healthcare with an increase in payment for having an ER and doing outpatient services. Myers explained that this would help the critical access hospitals that record a lower inpatient volume.
"Right now, that's not something we would look at," Myers noted. "We have a strong census that supports our operations."
Myers also stated that the government is looking at putting a five-year moratorium on the Physician Supervision Provision. He noted that he feels Senator Grassley has been very supportive of rural healthcare and making sure that rural Americans have access to healthcare when they need it.