Board gets good news on finances

Kathryn Eastburn, Staff Writer, Greenwood Commonwealth

Greenwood Leflore Hospital’s board on Tuesday night heard positive reports from two consulting firms working with the hospital on saving money and improving hospital and public relations.

The auditor overseeing the hospital’s pension plan gave an overall positive report as well.

The pension plan is showing an increase in funding, and its net liability has improved.

Bill Felder, a certified public accountant with Harper, Raines, Knight & Co. of Jackson, told the board that he found no misstatements in the audit materials he received from the hospital and had enjoyed full cooperation from management and the accounting staff while pulling together his report, an audit of the hospital’s pension plan.

The audit showed a $1.84 million net increase in pension funds for the 2017-18 fiscal year, with the bulk of that amount corning from employee contributions.

Benefits paid out went up slightly, Felder said, and the hospital has decreased its net pension liability by $1.5 million from the previous year.

The net pension liability is the future pension amount that has to be funded by the hospital. Felder said the hospital’s pension fund had moved from being 66 percent fully funded to 70 percent, a good result.

The results of the pension fund audit will be posted on the hospital’s website in coming weeks, Chief Financial Officer Dawne Holmes told the board.

Board members also were given reports on the effects of cost-cutting measures and revenue enhancement.

Vizient, the Dallas-based consulting firm hired by the hospital to help come up with plans to cut costs and increase revenues, is continuing to estimate a more than $4 million impact on the hospital’s bottom line through a combination of cost-cutting measures and areas where the hospital can expect revenue increases, with a “big bump” in actual results expected to be seen in August and September.

In the area of purchase services — those items the hospital buys from other companies — Vizient predicts hard savings of nearly $1.14 million with a chunk of that coming from newly negotiated contracts in the area of environmental services. A contract with Aramark Services is currently under review.

The Vizient report pointed out two physicians in particular who have embraced cost savings in the materials they use to do spinal implants — Drs. Jimmy Miller and Craig Clark, who are neurosurgeons. Through taking a new look at prices from a variety of vendors, those doctors have been able to lower the cost of materials they use for spinal implants by $130,000 with a potential for much higher savings.

In terms of revenue enhancement, Vizient pointed to $868,383 the hospital can expect to see through a significant volume increase in the emergency room. Improvements in emergency room services, including shorter wait times, have been a key focus of both Vizient’s work at the hospital as well as the consulting firm Healthcare Experience Foundation (HXF).

HXF reported that the group has put in place assessments of all major areas of operation in the hospital; senior leadership rounding to make senior medical staff more visible to both employees and patients; targeted coaching for employees on behaviors between staff, patients and hospital leadership; a front-line nurse leadership development program; and service excellence teams from all areas of the hospital.

Forty nurses have attended 100 hours of leadership training with 40 more hours set this week. Sixty-five employees have volunteered to be part of the service teams that will work to provide better and more efficient services throughout the hospital.

HXF continues to work with the board, senior leadership at the hospital and the medical staff to finalize a compact all can agree on that lays out a vision and mission and an agreement to work cooperatively toward common goals. A session will be scheduled in August to further this process, and HXF urged those present at the board meeting to help get more medical staff representation at the gathering.

·Contact Kathryn Eastburn at 581-7235 or keastburn@gwcommonwealth.com.