By TIM HORAN
Patients not paying their bills was one of the subjects at the regular meeting of the Memorial Health System board Thursday.
“It appears that our bad dept is going up,” Mark Miller, MHS chief executive officer told the board of trustees. “That is typical of hospitals with the economy and everything. I wanted to give you a heads up on that and also offer that there are things that we can do; some aggressive and some more aggressive.
“For example, if you go to the doctor’s office and you owe them a co-pay, you have to pay the co-pay before you see the doctor. We can do that. That would be a more aggressive solution,” he said.
“I think some of it will naturally resolve itself,” he added. “One of the aspects of Obamacare was that these uninsured folks would be insured. But like everything with health care right now, there is a lot of uncertainty.”
“At what point do we turn it over to collection?” asked board member Paul Schmitt.
“The short answer is, when they ignore us,” said Elgin Glanzer, chief financial officer of patients. “If you don’t call, you don’t talk to us, you throw the bill in the trash, that’s when we receive the message that it is time to go to collection.”
“Unfortunately, the first
time we hear from some patients is in these situations when collection calls them,” Miller said. “Then it’s essentially too late. We have already committed that account.
“Our charity care has gone up and we have been more aggressive in providing charity care. They (patients) are given the opportunity in their bill to apply for charity care,” Miller said.
Miller added that collection is changing.
“There are new rules coming out. They are actually regulating the collection process,” he said of the federal government. “We’re not too far off with what they came out with.”
Marcel Shoemaker, Memorial Health System ROSE unit director, gave an update on that floor of the hospital. That unit takes care of special needs of the elderly.
“We receive patients from all over Kansas and some from out of state,” Shoemaker said. “There is a way to get more people in and out but that is not always what’s best for the patient.
“We are a quality service and we want to maintain that quality service,” he said.
Dr. Bill Short, chief medical officer, said that patients of Drs. Steve Schwarting and Gary Coleman received letters about the doctors’ retirements on Aug. 31. Abilene’s two new doctors will start seeing patients in September.
“Things are moving forward for them to hit the ground running in September,” Short said.
Dr. Wendy Dinkel and Dr. Heather Bloesser will start seeing patients in September.
“We do need a third physician,” Miller said about recruitment.
The board gave approved to two appointments: Travis G. Whitesides, PA, physician assistant in the ER, and Dr. Apostolos Evangelidis, consulting urology and urological surgery. They also reappointed Dr. Rebecca J. Johnson, DPM, AHP, podiatry/podiatric surgery, Dr. J. Dennis Biggs, MD, family medicine, and Dr. J. Steven Schwarting, MD, family medicine.
The U.S. News and World Report awarded Village Manor a 5-star rating as one of the top nursing homes in Kansas. There are 115 nursing homes in Kansas, and 33 of those received a 5-star rating for being one of the best nursing homes in Kansas.
In other action the board:
* approved the consent agenda which included the purchase of three Flexline Crash Carts for $4,386.33 and a free standing reach-in refrigerator for $2,400.
* approved the capital expense requests:
— computed radiology system to convert x-ray plates to digital images for $57,699;
— a birthing bed for $10,407;
— cash register for the gift shop for $5,767;
— three blanket warmers for $21,920.96;
— two ice machines for $7,473.