The progress will for the foreseeable future seem more like a trickle than anything else when it comes to recovery at Pauls Valley General Hospital.
However, for those like PVGH CEO Jim Clough, that trickle can become a flow after several months of adjustments, made one small step at a time.
During a report given during the most recent PV Hospital Authority meeting, the steps are already being explored as managing partner NewLight Healthcare continues to bring outside parties with the appropriate experience.
“What I’m trying to figure out is how do we stop the losses and get things going in the other direction,” said Clough. “We finally got some numbers to work with.”
Along with the attempts to continue to better direct the revenue cycle, the plans to get the surgery department going again is still awaiting for proper approval at the state level and experienced another delay, according to Clough.
They discovered their plan of correction needed some more detailed information before it can be approved and while that is being taken care of, they will work on other preparation to bring back surgery like bringing in help for nurses that work that department as well as an experienced surgical tech.
On the financial side of things, the hospital recently hired a Chief Financial Officer, Dale Semar, to further analyze how to take care of the continuing debt problems.
One of the items he has so far helped determine causes struggles for the medical facility is accurately accounting in areas like contractual allowances, which is the differences between what is billed for services and what is paid to the hospital by Medicare and Medicaid as well as the insurance companies.
Clough mentioned how each time services are rendered there is a percentage that is always going to be debt.
Yet, he noted how making up for what is lost and turning it backs to revenue overall may be a matter of making adjustments as small as a few percentage points.
During the presentation by Clough, he used a recent period of time, July through December, as an example to show how much one could save even with minor adjustments in their accounting practices, which could involve cutting where they have room to cut.
In that time frame, he noted how more focused accounting practices could take some of what has been counted as lost until now and use that toward revenue.
“What that would do is that would increase your net revenue,” said Clough, mentioning one example where a loss of $1.8 million could be reduced to $640,000 by updating billing practices. “Dale’s working on some things… maybe five to eight percent on the contractual bad debt side.”
Additional good news is that they may be able to improve in other identified areas like their technology infrastructure, which Clough stated was shaky, by putting in an up to date fiber optic network through assistance programs.
This would mean better communication between departments in the hospital and speed up the delivery of vital information during and after patient treatment.
Clough pointed out how this ultimately allows more money to be available for the improvements they need.
“When I told you I’m optimistic about the opportunity to turn this hospital around I think we have a really solid basis to be optimistic to do that,” said Clough.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do, but the opportunity to make those impacts are there and with hard work and willpower we can get that done.”
Editor’s note: Additional updates on the hospital’s current status like the approval of a new billing system will be featured in a future edition of the Democrat.