VMH works through switch of electronic medical and financial records, closes on purchase of former dental clinic in Monona

by Brianne Eilers

In February of this year, Veterans Memorial Hospital (VMH) in Waukon began switching over its electronic medical records and financial records to AthenaHealth. VMH Administrator Mike Myers noted that during the most recent board of trustees meeting, a financial report for the month of March was not available to share due to some initial "hiccups" in the process of switching over those records.

Myers noted that the hospital did have someone coming in to help sort out the issue and get things back on track to be able to generate reports. The hospital is also looking at putting in a time attendance system to merge with AthenaHealth to try and streamline payroll.

Myers said that the hospital has closed on the purchase of the former dental clinic in Monona. "We have a committee put together to look at what we need to do to get it (the family practice clinic) up and running," he said. He further noted that with the time it may take to complete any remodeling, hire a provider and get things straightened out with insurance companies, it could be into summer before the clinic will be open.

VMH is continuing to work locally with those involved in mental health to determine the best way to meet the needs of mental health patients. "We continue to have people presenting to the E.R. looking for placement, and quite frankly our resources in this part of Iowa are limited," Myer said, adding that resources are limited statewide as well. "Per capita, Iowa has one of the lowest, if not the lowest, ratio of providers to mental health clients."

Myers noted that the hospital is close to implementing its psychiatric telemedicine program, which would offer some help. The hospital will be using the same type of psychiatric telemedicine that is used by the county jail.

On a positive note, Myers stated that the server the hospital had budgeted $70,000 for came in at just over $20,000. The roofing project over the Obstetrics (OB) area will begin soon. Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA) Mark Bishop started May 1, and Rich Keppler will be retiring in a couple of weeks.

Myers said that the hospital staff had "excellent" participation in the Live Healthy Iowa program. The annual Family Wellness Fair is scheduled for May 10 from 3:30-6:30 p.m. Former University of Iowa quarterback Chuck Long will be at the event as part of the Live Healthy Iowa team. Myers noted that community and hospital staff have continued to show great support of the Veterans Memorial Health Care Foundation.