VMH seeking short-term financing from City of Waukon during medical records transition

by Brianne Eilers

The month of January ended on a positive financial note at Veterans Memorial Hospital (VMH) in Waukon with a profit of $49,136. VMH Administrator Mike Myers noted that looking at year-to-date statistics, the hospital is financially "about break-even."

He noted that they are still under budget by approximately $10,000 to $15,000. "Considering what we ended at last year, I feel pretty good about that," Myers said.

Acute patient days were up and skilled patient days were also up over last January. Deliveries were the same as last January. Total surgeries were also up, as was overall radiology department patient volume. Myers did note that Emergency Room visits were down some over last January, further explaining that outpatient revenue was 6.9% above budget.

In other matters, long-time VMH employee Joyce Schorg will be leaving, and Myers said she would still be doing some things on a contractual basis. Myers also noted that they still have no word from Mayo regarding Dr. David Schwartz.

The hospital is also looking at ways to reorganize, restructure and enhance its emergency medical services. Myers also stated that all the Emergency Room providers are now under contract with the hospital. He also noted that the Monona clinic is "doing well."

Myers said he attended a meeting with Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds regarding mental health issues. The Iowa House of Representatives passed a bill regarding mental health. "It's very positive," he said. "It is a step forward in putting together a system that will have more access points."

VMH employees also continue to train on the Evident program for medical records. Myers noted that they have been receiving training to help with billing.

Myers also discussed how the hospital is currently working out of three electronic medical record systems and some of the challenges that has brought. He explained that even though they are working out of the new Evident system, there are still some records in the Athena Health system, as well as the system used prior to Athena Health.

This has really bogged down the payment process. Myers explained when a bill is submitted, there is always a chance that there could be an adjustment or correction that needs to be made to it, and then it would have to be re-submitted, further delaying the process. "Working out of three systems grinds down the process of getting cash in," Myers said.

He has asked the City of Waukon for a short-term loan (see the Waukon City Council story on Page 4A in this week's print and e-edition). Myers explained that the hospital is only asking for the money to give themselves a bit of a financial buffer until the medical records and billing situation is sorted out. He further noted that the plan would be to pay the loan back in six months, but they would probably take it out for a 12-month period. "Once we get that money out we can build our reserves back up," Myers noted.

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