Greene Publishing, Inc.
The board members of Madison County Hospital Health Systems, Inc., and the Madison County Health and Hospital Board held a noon meeting, one right after the other, at Lee Town Hall, Thursday, June 23.
While meeting as the first board, Board Chair Ben Harris opened the meeting with a big round of “thank you’s,” especially to Administrative Assistant Susan Yonce, who was attending her final Board meeting before “passing the torch to Crystal (Lee).”
Harris then discussed his meeting with Emerald Greene of Greene Publishing, Inc., and talked about the new feature in the Madison County Carrier both had agreed upon, “Hot Questions, Hot Topics,” in which editor Jacob Bembry would bring a question from the public to Hospital CEO David Abercrombie and have him answer it (the first installment has already run in the June 29 edition of the Carrier, where Abercrombie answered the question as to why the hospital has two boards).
Abercrombie stated that the feature was “an opportunity to keep the ball rolling,” adding that he saw it as an educational opportunity for the public as well as an opportunity for the newspaper to get its facts straight. “There is so much misunderstanding out there,” he said. “So much the public needs to know.”
Abercrombie’s remarks also referenced an earlier anecdote related by board member Oliver Bradley that a member of the public had accused the board of “hiding out” by holding their meeting in the Lee Town Hall.
They also discussed doing more advertising, since many people were unaware that they could get many procedures done at the hospital as opposed to driving to Valdosta or Tallahassee. Harris added that changes in the way Blue Cross Blue Shield viewed procedures done in a hospital versus an outpatient facility had led to Blue Cross lowering the required co-pay, a boon for patients with insurance as well as for the hospital. “We’ll be able to collect insurance for those procedures…as opposed to Medicare and Medicaid, where we lose money.”
In addition to Medicare and Medicaid, indigent care the hospital provides is another financial problem the board wants to discuss with the county commissioners at the next County Commission meeting. There is a possibility that part of the one-cent sales tax could help alleviat at least some of the indigent care deficit by at least $250,000 a year, if the Commission votes in favor of it. If it passes, said Abercrombie, “it will be the first time anybody outside the hospital has acknowledged that indigent care is a huge problem that needs to be addressed rather than left for the hospital to deal with.”
Later, during the second meeting, the board also discussed fundraising efforts, but decided that the sheer amount of funds that needed to be raised coupled with board members’ relative inexperience with fundraising of such magnitude meant that this was probably something a professional fundraiser organization should handle.
Howard Phillips proposed renaming the hospital for when the new facility was completed, and Annette Johnson suggested holding a contest to have Madison County residents to come up with a new name. Suggestions for prizes included a cash prize with each board member personally contributing a portion of the prize money, or a collection of gift cards donated by local merchants. Other ideas included getting schools involved by having each class of students come up with names; the winners would get an ice cream social, pizza party or a special field trip, with the cost split among individual board members. When the final details have been ironed out, the board will announce the dates the contest will run and how people can submit their entries.
While on the subject of names, several board members wanted to named at least one wing or some other segment within the hospital after Charlie Moore, who had been at the forefront of the new hospital effort since 1999.
Meeting as the corporate board, Madison County Hospital Health Systems, Inc., the board members noted improvement in the “swing bed” numbers and were pleased with the higher volume of patients using the endoscopy program now the procedure was being offered every other week instead of weekly. Abercrombie noted that “it might be a pretty good fiscal year coming up.”
However, the finances still weren’t good enough for the board to hire an internist who had expressed interest in relocating from Tallahassee to a rural area like Madison. Abercombie and others expressed regret at not being about to afford the doctor yet, but hoped that they could at some point in the near future.