County Hospital still open

In a special called meeting of the Bamberg County Hospital Board of Trustees on Tuesday, October 4, trustees approved the restructuring of medical services that will no longer include inpatient care. Services now offered at the hospital will include the following: Emergency Room, Radiology, Rehabilitation, Physical and Respiratory Therapy, Out Patient Care, Laboratory and X-Ray.

In explaining the rationale for restructuring the hospital’s medical services, administrator John Hales said with the dwindling number of inpatients over the last six months, the move is something that has been in the making for some time. “In all reality it’s been phasing down for some period of time,” Hales said, adding “currently sometimes we run zero inpatients, the numbers are so small they won’t be anything sorely missed by the patients.”

Hales noted the vast majority of the hospital services are in the out-patient area, where each month the hospital sees over 900 patients in the emergency room and about an equal amount in radiology. “And, when you throw in physical and respiratory therapy, you’re talking about 1,000’s of patients being taken care of by the Bamberg County Hospital. It’s really not going to be much of a change,” Hales said.

“The hospital is still open and providing good quality health care,” Bamberg County Administrator Rose Dobson-Elliott, who was in attendance at the meeting said. “We really want our emergency room and out-patient services to be utilized and open until Dobbs takes over,” Bamberg County Hospital Board Chair Dr. Danette McAlhaney said.

Bamberg County Hospital Board September 27 meeting:

The Bamberg County Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees members got some good news about the cash strapped facilities finances Tuesday night. Hospital administrator John Hales informed trustees at their September 27th meeting that information just received from the CPA’s and consultants that conducted a Recovery Audit Contractor Audit (RAC) on the hospital’s finances since 2004, showed the hospital would only have to refund $2,623 to the Centers for Medicare and Medicare Services (CMS).

“They spent a lot of money to get $2,623,” Hales said, noting the good (RAC) audit was “a testament to the people here.” “They did a good job with documentation and implemented good billing practices. They didn’t overly bill or improperly bill.” Hales noted that other hospitals are looking at repaying the government “seven or eight figures.”

South Carolina and five or six other states were the pilot state for the Recovery Audit Contractor Audits (RAC) program contracted with the federal government to check into what was thought to be $100’s of millions of dollars overcharged through Medicare through improper admissions or overcharges going back to 2004.

Also during the meeting:

• In presenting highlights of the monthly financial report administrator Hales noted “August is usually a slow month with school starting back.” He reported that revenues in August were $5,000 greater than July. The monthly expenses for August were $725,000 or $127,000 less than the previous month in July. “Monthly expenses are starting to come down with the cuts made earlier,” Hales said, adding “the $127,000 less is a significant amount of money. Cash collections for the month were $610,000. The hospital still recorded a negative worksheet of $280,000 which was noted was still and improvement over the previous month. “The balance sheet is what it is, a negative position,” Hales said. “We’re making some progress slowly but surely. We’re not making a ton of money. We’re keeping loses to a minimum and looking for ways to cut expenses and save money all the time.”

• Also during the meeting hospital board members approved the purchase of a G.E. C-T Scanner main bulb, which would normally cost $180,000, but administrator Hales was able to secure one for $70,000.

• Board members also gave their approval to a number of medical staff appointments.