Thursday, September 3, 2015

LCH Hears progress reports

By Will Bublitz

Presentations on increasing patient numbers and revenue to Lincoln Community Hospital (LCH) and its satellite clinics were a major part of the Board of Directors meeting last Thursdsay, Aug. 27.

The main speaker was Gail Finley, vice president of Rural Health with the Colorado Hospital Association who made a Power Point presentation. She discussed integrated care, the diversity of medical services available to patients, profitability, strengthening community loyalty and the use of new medical technologies.

Another speaker was Alexandra Mannerings who talked about the local patient market and migration to urban medical centers. She displayed charts and graphs that detailed these areas.

Jan Young, a Health Information Management consultant working at LCH for the past few months, also spoke about her efforts to help the hospital make the transition to electronic medical records. 
Prior to the start of Thursday’s meeting, Kevin Stansbury, LCH’s Chief Executive Officer, led the board members outside on a tour of the patio project that is under construction. The patio is located on the northeastern side of the hospital adjacent to the Care Center.

The work on the patio is being done by the hospital’s Maintenance Department which expects to complete the project by September 24. It is being funded by local donations including a large one from the Gift of Life Foundation.

When completed, the patio will have  covered picnic tables, an outdoor kitchen with grill that is wheel-chair accessible, an ornamental pond with small waterfall, raised gardens, a grass-covered play area and additional seating. The patio will be used for the enjoyment of the Care Center residents and their families, as well as the community.

In addition to viewing the patio, the board members took a quick look at the progress being made at the new AirLife medical helicopter base being set up at the helipad located across First Avenue from the hospital. A cloth-covered hangar and storage shed were erected there over the past few days.

Stansbury said the AirLife medical helicopter and its crew should be onsite by September 21. Once in Hugo, the helicopter will be responding to emergency medical situations on the state’s central plains between Denver and the Kansas border.

In his monthly Chief of Staff report, Dr. Mark Olson said the hospital’s new C-Arm had been delivered. The C-Arm is a fluoroscopy X-ray machine that allows physicians to administer to epidural steroid injections to the specific area of the lower back or hip where a patient is experiencing pain. The C-Arm displays a continuous X-ray image of the patient’s body which can help the physician guide the suringe to deliver the steroid injection to the painful joint or muscle.

Also during Thursday’s meeting, the board members were pleased to learn the Care Center’s census had risen to a daily average of 27.2 residents during July. In her written report, Shelley Cochran, Director of Long Term Nursing, said "this was the best average that I can remember." For the past few years, the Care Center has had monthly averages in the low to mid 20's, which meant it was operating at a financial loss.

Commenting on this improvement in its census numbers, Stansbury said the Care Center’s staff has been scrutinizing all the details of its expenses to find where cost savings might be found without lowering the high quality of care for its residents.

In the rest of the monthly reports on patient numbers, LCH had a daily average in July of 0.9 for in-patients, 1.1 for swing bed and 1.6 for observation.

LCH's Emergency Room staff was very busy during July handling a total of 229 patients. A total of 25 ER transfers were made from LCH to larger urban hospitals along the Front Range.

During that same month, the nurses of LCH's Home Health & Hospice provided services to 16 home health and 5 hospice patients. They conducted a total of 60 visits to the home health patients and 27 visits to hospice patients.

The Physical/Occupational Therapy Clinic had a high volume of patients in July. Its physical therapists assisted 269 patients while its occupational therapists helped 153. There were 9 speech therapy cases that month.

The patient numbers for LCH's four medical clinics continued to rise during July. Its Specialty Clinic in Hugo handled a total of 182 whild the Gordon Clinic, also located in Hugo, had 397 patients. The Limon Family Practice Clinic set another record with 490 patients that month, while the Flagler Family Practice Clinic also did well with 260 patients.

Also during Thursday's meeting, Ben and Susan Ferree informed the board that they recently acquired ownership of the old Family Dollar store on Main Street in Limon and were remodeling the building. They plan to open a pharmacy in a portion of the 3,300-square-foot building, but will also have enough space for three offices that they will be leasing. They plan to open the renovated and remodeled building by November 1.

PATIO PREVIEW – The Board of Directors of Lincoln Community Hospital received a guided tour of the new patio being constructed adjacent to the Care Center. When finished later this month, it will be available for use by the Care Center residents, their families and the community.

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