Concerned over shutdown, hospital board takes over finances
April 23, 2020
The Board of Trustees have been concerned about cashflow within Crook County Medical Services District; with many patient visits postponed, the hospital and clinic has seen much reduced traffic over the last few weeks.
But though the board did decide to take protective measures regarding its finances last week, Karl Rude of management company Health Management Services assured trustees that things are not as bad as they might seem.
“You stated there would be an impending financial crisis; however, we currently sit at cash position of $257,000,” he said in a message to the board prior to the special meeting.
“We have approximately $90,000 dollars of SHIP (small rural hospital improvement program) COVID-19 relief funds coming into the facility in the next few weeks.”
In fact, he said, there is a steady course of cash coming in. However, “It appears that we have approximately $100,000 less in billed revenues than our budget had projected due to decreased volumes in our clinic.”
The management company has taken measures in the light of reduced income, he said.
“We have been addressing staffing efficiency by staffing people to the volumes that the hospital is seeing. These staff are being allowed to use their paid time off and sick leave to address their cash needs and are eligible for unemployment benefits that have changed as a result of the reduced hours,” he said in the message.
“The majority of the impact has been seen at the clinics, but there have been other places where we have needed to staff call-in staff because of changes in our model to respond to the new COVID-19 threat. Some staff have been allocated to the screening staff for facility entrance as well. Some staff have also been allowed to work from home.”
Senator Ogden Driskill further commented at the special meeting that package four of the federal stimulus funding through the CARES Act will likely try to backfill the income of hospitals.
However, chairman Mark Erickson noted that cashflow issues are “affecting just about every business and every hospital in the U.S.” In light of that, and because CEO Nathan Hough has resigned, Erickson said that for the time being the board will act in the interests of keeping cash flow as fluid as possible.
This, said Erickson, requires changes to check writing and bill paying. The board will also set temporary rules to, for example, prevent additions being made to staffing number or upgrades from part-time to full-time status.
Erickson stated that he does not believe the world has hit the bottom of the barrel yet in terms of the impact of the pandemic. All checks will now be handled by the board, in all amounts (excluding payroll until at least May 3) and online access to the bank accounts has been cancelled.
Trustee Sandy Neiman commented that it is imperative the board takes control because, “We need to bring this back in hand so we know where we sit at every minute.”