PCH adding equipment, website

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Specialized equipment, two new business lines, additional physicians and a website are coming to Putnam County Hospital.

Hospital board members approved the purchase of new medication carts, a C-arm and a portable x-ray machine during their monthly meeting Wednesday.

They also learned about two new business lines developed by the hospital for an in-house sleep study program and a new occupational therapy in the physical therapy department. Board members also learned of the successful recruitment of new physicians for the Cloverdale Medical office and the surgical office of the hospital were discussed.

During the meeting, board members agreed to the purchase of 10 new medication carts at a cost of $71,000. The robot-like carts contain a computer and bar code reader. "This is a big benefit to patient safety," reports Director of Professional Services Donna Gannaway. "The bar code on the patient's wrist is scanned helping to ensure the right dose is given to the right patient at the right time. It is also an aid for nursing staff who will no longer have to chart all medications at the nursing desk. The computer will record it," she added.

The carts will be paid for with a $8,500 Indiana Rural Health Grant and a $62,332 pharmacy rebate from Amgen, a biotechnology company which produces two drugs used consistently by the oncology department of the hospital. The hospital generally receives a rebate from the company quarterly. PCH Executive Director Dennis Weatherford recommended using the grant to help pay for the new equipment before the quote expired and the price increased.

"We need to use the Indiana Rural Health Grant or we will lose it and if we combine it with the rebate from Amgen the purchase does not affect our cash flow," he declared.

Board member Dr. Ernst inquired if the technology for the carts would be outdated anytime soon.

"This is the latest and best we have found," confirmed Weatherford. The board unanimously agreed to buy the carts.

They also agreed to purchase a C-arm and portable x-ray unit used during surgery for a cost of $113,000 for the C-arm and $4,200 for the portable x-ray machine. An additional $6,600 will be paid per year for maintenance for years 2 trough 5 of the contract. By purchasing the units bundled together and outright, the hospital saves $32,000.

Board members learned that the hospital has initiated a new line of business with Dr. Anand Bhuptani, a sleep specialist with the Springhill Center for Sleep Disorders in Terre Haute, who will provide sleep lab equipment to the hospital. Currently, the studies will only be done during the day on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays. Eventually, the hospital hopes to add night studies.

Beginning in August a new initiative concerning "work hardening" will begin in the occupational therapy area. Work hardening is occupational therapy which replicates the physical requirements of a persons job and is used to build strength during therapy. The unit has already had one patient and therapists are calling on community businesses to let them know about the service. Information about the speech therapy program is also being provided to the community by the speech therapist.

Weatherford announ-ced that recruitment efforts have paid off with two new doctors joining the hospital staff and a ENT physician seeing patients in the oncology office beginning in August. Negotiations with a physicians who will be join Dr. Keith Landry at Family Medicine of Cloverdale are underway. Weatherford also informed the board that a new surgeon will be joining Dr. Patton as a surgeon in August.

The development of the a website for the hospital is nearing completion. "The hospital website should be up and running by August, we just have some basic work and fine tuning to be done," reports Gannaway. An added plus for hospital physicians will be the ability to log on to the website and work on charts electronically. "Physicians will be able to work more efficiently from home or the office," she noted.

Weatherford reported that because of all the construction occurring at the hospital vendors are receiving a Contractor Safety Handbook which covers things outside OSHA regulations. "Healthcare has other requirements beyond OSHA such as infection control," acknowledged Weatherford. He stressed the importance of construction vendors knowing about all requirements beyond the OSHA regulations.

In other business:

* Reported that the stone base of a new parking lot has been completed.

* Approved sending the infection control nurse to an advance infection control training for the cost of $1,162.

* Agreed to pave the employee parking lot at North Putnam Healthcare office for a cost of $8,800.

* Raised the mileage reimbursement rate of $.44.5 per mile to the IRS mileage rate of $.48.5 per mile.

* Agreed to send to medical coders from physician offices to a professional coders training.

* Agreed to a 2 percent cost of living increase and a $8 minimum wage plus other recommendations. This is effective for the fist full pay period in July.

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