Hospital CEO reports employee wage increase
Eureka Springs Hospital employees recently received a wage increase.
CEO Angie Shaw reported at the Eureka Springs Hospital Commission’s meeting on Monday night that she worked with CFO Bill Couch to increase the pay scale across the board. Shaw said the wage increase is part of her plan to address employee retention.
“These increases were warranted by where the staff fell on the wage scale and their experience at their current position,” Shaw said. “I felt that focusing on retention and making sure the current staff were where they needed to be was an important path to follow and going forward with bringing new staff in under a new wage scale.”
Shaw added, “It has been well received, of course.”
Shaw said there are several open positions at the hospital. The hospital needs four more nurses, Shaw said.
“We are actively interviewing for those,” Shaw said. “We are also actively advertising to fill the swing bed case manager position that we also require to be a registered nurse.”
Shaw thanked one of the hospital’s licensed practical nurses who took over COVID-19 testing 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
“That has definitely helped out with our ER nurse staffing,” Shaw said. “We continue to hold vaccine clinics for the community at our clinic that’s across the street from the hospital, and those are every Friday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. We still have a need right now — we’re averaging around 40 vaccines during that clinic.”
There’s been an increase in outpatient COVID-19 testing, Shaw said. Of the 373 COVID-19 tests completed since Aug. 1, Shaw reported, the hospital has shown 71 positive results.
Shaw said the hospital brought on a new respiratory therapist who started on Aug. 16, so now there’s respiratory therapy coverage seven days a week. She’s also been working to bring on a speech therapist to get the speech therapy program going, Shaw said, but she doesn’t have a start date on that position yet.
Joy Kennedy was promoted to ER director, Shaw said. She said Kennedy will be taking over on Oct. 4. Kennedy has been a nurse at the hospital since 2014, Shaw said, and serves as a member of the Inspiration Point Fire Department.
“She has a lot of knowledge and I’m looking forward to her coming on board full time,” Shaw said.
Shaw reported that the ER census has remained steady.
“Our numbers each month continue to grow,” Shaw said. “We haven’t seen numbers this strong in years. It’s been very busy and the LPN that also does the testing helps with the ER when she’s not testing, so that’s been a blessing.”
Shaw said the lab has been busy with COVID-19 testing. Outpatient radiology testing is holding steady, Shaw said, and the number of ultrasounds is increasing. Now that a staff member has become certified, Shaw said, the hospital can complete echo tests Monday through Friday.
Unfortunately, Shaw said, the CT scanner is down.
“The replacement part is scheduled to land tonight at the airport … and they’re bringing it over immediately to change that out, so we should be up and running after that,” Shaw said.
Shaw said she received a notice that Medicare has processed and approved the hospital’s application for a clinic at 25 Norris St. The next step, Shaw said, is to get approval from Medicaid and reach out to commercial insurance groups.
In the marketing department, Shaw said, the hospital recently chose a new logo designed by Nathan Coy. Community liaison Catherine Pappas said the hospital received between 100 and 150 submissions in the logo contest. Coy’s design was chosen because it is simple and modern, Shaw said.
“A logo is like a symbol of identification,” Pappas said. “We wanted to make sure people know we’re a hospital. The logo needed to combine the purpose of the hospital and keep it simple.”
The new logo will be used for signs on the road, at the front of the hospital and near the ER entrance. Shaw said the staff will have shirts with the logo on it, as well. When choosing the new logo, Pappas said, the hospital didn’t want to rebrand too dramatically.
“We are still for the community here,” Pappas said. “I think the pick was a perfect direction of more progression, especially with all the changes that are happening at the hospital.”
One of those changes, Shaw said, is that the hospital is working to bring coding back in-house.
“Right now, it’s outsourced. We’re working on that so we can end that contract,” Shaw said.
Couch gave the financial report, saying the past month was good for collections. The gross revenue for the month of August was more than $1 million, Couch said, right in line with the gross revenue from July. That means the hospital is trending in a good direction, Couch said.
Commissioner Kent Turner asked how much longer Couch will need to work with a contract employee to clean up the finances and Couch said he’d like to maintain that employee until the end of the year. After that, Couch said, everything should be in order.
Chair Tyson Burden reported that the FDA should approve the Pfizer vaccine for children between 5 and 11 in the near future.
“The hope is children who want to be vaccinated and whose parents want them to be vaccinated would be able to be vaccinated by Halloween, which would be very great,” Burden said.
Around that time, Burden said, Medicare is going to require that all hospital employees receive the COVID-19 vaccine. If everyone isn’t vaccinated, Burden said, the hospital will be penalized.
“Nobody knows exactly how this will roll out,” Burden said.
He said he spoke with the commission’s attorney, believing the hospital can’t mandate the vaccine because it would violate state law.
“But she said if they do roll that out as a mandate, in order to participate with Medicare, that would be something we would have to follow no matter what,” Burden said. “So we probably all need to be thinking about how we will roll that out and how we will implement that.”
Burden said some staff members aren’t vaccinated and don’t want to be.
“We may need to reach out to them and see if there’s anything we can do to help them with this potential mandate coming down next month,” Burden said. “That’s just something in the future. It’s not for right now, but just so everybody’s aware and we can be thinking about that.”
The hospital’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 18, at the Auditorium.