The new Pemiscot Memorial Health Systems Board met for the first time Sept. 6 and began making decisions to move forward to dig the hospital and health services out of the a deep financial hole. The Board discussed areas that have already begun to change and an “action plan” for the future.
CFO Kerry Noble told the Board that the billing had been returned in house. He said that originally the billing was moved to Extended Health Systems but has since been returned to in house. CEO Jack Pennington told the Board that the move could save the hospital $400,000 or more annually. He also said that two computers systems were returned to the Hospital and staff was in place to take over all of the billing.
Noble told the Board that the institution should consider instituting a bi-monthly payroll instead if every two weeks. He said that two times a year there are six weeks in a month and that can strap the health system on cash flow. He said that instituting a plan where employees were paid on the first and the fifteenth of every month, the extra pay was spread out over a longer period and easier to absorb. The Board took this suggestion under consideration.
Noble asked for permission to pursue a “consolidation loan” that would pay up all the vendors over with accounts due for over 90 days. Noble said the institution had accounts payable as of Aug. 31 of $2,854,861.29. Out of that $1,525,941.09 were 90 days or over. He said it is vital to the institution to get these paid off so that vendors would continue to deliver items and services necessary for the hospital to continue operating. He stated that he had made arrangements in the amount of $169,398.00 a month to keep the vendors delivering, but that it was hard to meet that arrangement. He showed how a consolidation loan for the over 90 days payable and the line of credit could be paid off with the county tax levies for two years and $75,000 a month for 17 months. The Board instructed him to talk to all the banks and see what could be worked out.
Pennington said that he was reviewing the list of furloughed employees. He stated that that each department was being evaluated to see if some could return, and they were bringing some back. When asked if all furloughed would return he said, “If the dominoes begin to fall in a positive direction, then we may be able to bring them back and even hire more.” He stressed that a lot of things would need to come together for that to happen.
Pennington also stressed that employee trust was essential. Both Noble and he agreed that morale was at an all-time low after Aug.15, when so much had been taken from the employees and many feared they would not have a job.
Board members said that it was important to reestablish trust in the community. Noble said that admissions were down. The Board felt that the community needed to be made aware that the hospital was functioning and still there to serve the area; and that public trust was essential. Noble said the fact that the entire Board was new was a positive step in that direction.
The Board also discussed the possibility of a tax referendum and asked Noble to research the steps they would need to take with County Clerk Pam Treece. The referendum would raise property taxes slightly to bring in an additional $150,000 a year in revenue. Currently, the hospital receives about $600,000.
The Board then turned to a private consulting bill by a firm out of Memphis. Both Pennington and Noble said they could not find where the Board contracted them, but the firm said it was voted on in a meeting and in the minutes. According to the bill of $5,000 the Hospital agreed to pay $1000 a day plus expenses. Pennington said that the consultant basically reviewed what Pennington and Noble had already researched. The Board voted to dissolve any relationship with an outside consultant and move ahead with Pennington and Noble.
The Board also decided to rebid the auditing services. It was currently being done by a firm from Memphis and Board members felt it should be moved locally with business being done in county if at all possible.