Hospital makes switch

LTC to become Intermediate Swing Bed Unit July 1
www.thebellevilletelescope.com

With only nine residents remaining, Republic County Hospital has asked the state to officially license the former long-term care unit as an Intermediate Swing Bed Unit effective this Friday, June 30.

“We will maintain a waiting listing,” said hospital administrator Blaine Miller of the eight residents the hospital will care for as intermediate swing bed patients.

He said the other 20-plus residents who lived in LTC prior to the decision to discontinue the service have found homes both locally and in other facilities in the region.

He said work has begun to make all rooms on the acute patient floor private so that the entire hospital falls within its 25-bed limit as a Critical Access Hospital.

Susie Welch will direct the new ISB unit, and former long-term care director Faye Jones will transition into a position as risk management director, he said.

Reducing the intermediate swing bed to eight has affected about 30 employees in the Long Term Care, dietary and laundry departments, he said. Some of those jobs have been eliminated through attrition; many have found employment elsewhere, he said.

“So far we’ve only had two apply for unemployment benefits,” said hospital CFO Barry Bottger

The Long Term Care was eliminated as a department of the hospital in an effort to gain reimbursement from Medicare. In May, 81 percent of the patients treated at the hospital were Medicare beneficiaries. Medicare will reimburse the hospital for the intermediate swing bed patients, and will also consider the unused space in the former LTC as reimbursable square footage as administrative space.

Some rooms may be used for sleep studies, and could also be used as guest rooms for visiting medical personnel, Miller said.

The Great Plains Health Alliance, which leases the hospital, said the hospital would have received $800,000 more in Medicare reimbursements last year without the LTC department, which is not considered a reimbursable expense because it does not provide acute care.

New administrator

Monday’s hospital board meeting was the first for new administrator David-Paul Cavazos, who will take the head job in August.

Cavazos and his wife, Laura, have four children ages 3 to 14. He has 18 years experience in health care, including his most recent positions as director of medical imaging services at Allen County Regional Hospital, where he also worked with physician recruitment, and as chief operating officer of Southeast Kansas Mental Health, both in Iola.

He holds an MBA in health/healthcare administration and management from Ottawa University.

His family plans to move to Belleville as soon as their house in Iola is sold, he said.

He has spent his first month at Republic County Hospital visiting with staff and department heads.

“I think you have great employees–good people with heart and a good sense of direction,” he said. “I’ve found good enthusiasm and good morale, which you don’t always see when you walk into a hospital.”

Miller said he plans to turn more of the day-to-day decisions over to Cavazos in July. He will retire August 10 but plans to remain in Belleville.

Cavazos is only the fourth administrator at Republic County Hospital since the facility was built. All the administrators, which includes Bonnie Elliott and Charles Westin, continue to live in Belleville.

Financials

GPHA regional vice president JH Seitz told the hospital board that revenues and expenses are beginning to “even out”. Hospital revenues are up to $8.5 million, which is about $600,000 ahead of last year at this time, but operating expenses were $9.9 million, about $700,000 ahead of last year. Of the expenses, $375,000 is depreciation, a noncash expense, and $309,000 is provision for uncollected accounts.

Of the $3.1 million accounts receivable, Bottger said that about $500,000 is past six months due, but “the rest is pretty current”.

The hospital had additional employee expense this month, he said, as accrued benefit ts were paid to 16 employees laid off from the LTC closure.