Hospital panel considers cost comparison

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Eureka Springs Hospital should consider increasing its costs to maintain existing Medicare reimbursements, commissioner Kent Turner told the hospital commission at a workshop on Saturday, Oct. 2.

Turner said he spoke with a hospital employee who compared the hospital’s costs with other hospitals, finding the costs are “way low” and could lower the Medicare reimbursements. CEO Angie Shaw said hospital employees recently received significant raises and there have been several equipment upgrades over the past year, which would increase the hospital’s overall costs. That’s good news, Turner said.

“We were significantly underpaying some of our positions and that changed just recently,” Turner said. “You wouldn’t have seen those numbers yet. Those wouldn’t be in the numbers you’re looking at.”

Kent Turner

Turner added, “We wouldn’t want to be sitting here and they’ll say, ‘OK, you’re going to get half the Medicare money you got last year because you’re being too efficient.’ “

Vice chair Barbara Dicks said she’s happy to hear the finances are being analyzed.

“That’s part of the information we need to know that we haven’t,” Dicks said.

Turner said hospital employees are working on different versions of income statements, which “should bring us a lot closer to understanding where we’re at.”

“You need to look at it from a total picture standpoint,” Turner said. “I do get worried about underperformance, because … I did do a couple of Medicare audits when I was with the state auditor’s office in Missouri and they look at every opportunity to reduce our rates.”

Also at the workshop, Turner suggested removing a piece of old equipment the hospital isn’t using anymore. The equipment has been sitting unused for a while, Turner said, and it will begin to deteriorate if the hospital doesn’t remove it.

“It’s taking up a lot of space. It’s connected to electric. It’s connected to water lines,” Turner said. “Every minute that sits there is an opportunity for a water line to break.”

Commissioner Judy Giggey asked what the equipment does and Shaw said it was used years ago in the emergency room and surgery room.

“We haven’t used it in years and it broke,” Shaw said.

“So it’s obsolete,” Giggey said.

“If it truly is obsolete, you can probably sell it for scrap,” Turner said. “The damage from that piece of equipment is what caused … most of the damage to the wall. It drained right outside the wall and didn’t have a drain that went across the street, so it came back under the core foundation that was underneath that wall.”

Giggey said it would be best to get rid of the equipment and everyone agreed. Turner then suggested working on an audit of all the equipment in the hospital to ensure everything in the facility is being used for a purpose.

“I think it’s time to clean house,” Dicks said.

“The space should be better utilized,” Giggey said.

“That’s one thing we don’t have a lot of in the hospital, space,” Shaw said.

The commission’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 18, at the Auditorium.

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