Putnam County Hospital sees discount for qualified patients

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Putnam County Hospital board on Wednesday passed an amendment to its financial policy, adding a 15-percent discount for uninsured patients.

The hospital already offers a 10-percent prompt-pay discount to anyone paying their bill within 10 days of receiving a statement.

Uninsured persons who pay their hospital charges within 10 days of receiving their bills could get up to a 25-percent discount. They will receive the 10-percent prompt-pay discount and a 15-percent discount for being uninsured.

"It is also an incentive for people with high deductibles or catastrophic insurance to use the hospital services and to pay their bills quickly," explained Hospital Administrator Dennis Weatherford.

Board member Fred Mann commented, "I am totally in agreement with this change. Lots of people I know are caught in the insurance issues. I am in favor of passing this now."

The hospital board approved this item in the policy at the meeting and will vote to approve all other amendments in the document at next month's meeting.

The hospital also offers a charity scale to those with no insurance and no means to pay. Using a sliding scale based on ability to pay, persons without insurance or the means to pay could receive a 50-75-percent discount from the hospital.

Weatherford added that a position has been filled with an interview screener who deals mostly with Medicare and Medicaid insurance issues. "With 26 different programs, we had to have someone knowledgeable about Medicare and Medicaid," remarked Weatherford.

The hospital is facing an accounts receivable problem in the millions of dollars. The issue is a continuing one which has computer software limitations and other concerns being addressed with an action plan.

The plan is designed to help with the collection of revenues. Changes are being made in the billing and collections departments with some out-sourcing of services, retraining of staff and the continued efforts of the computer software company to make adjustments and fixes to the system.

Board member Dennis O'Hair referred to the ongoing computer issues.

"I know I'm new to the board, but for the past eight months since I've been on the board, I've been hearing about this. I'm excited to be getting this resolved and know I want to be part of the solution and not part of the problem," he stated.

Some discussion ensued among board and attending staff members regarding past issues revolving around hospital employees and the computer software installation. Chairman of the board Dr. J. Ernst called for an end to the discussion and told members the issue needed to be discussed in an executive meeting, as it related to personnel issues. An executive session was called following the adjournment of the regular meeting.

In other business, the board:

* Approved a travel request for three people to attend a training session with the computer vendor at a hospital in Kentucky.

* Approved the purchase of a surgical microscope for use by the new Ear Nose and Throat surgeon Dr. Clem McDonald, who will begin practicing at the hospital in September.

* Approved a payment installment for the renovation of the oncology and administration suite for $235,715.96.

* Learned no work has been done on the new website due to an injury by one of the lead people on the project.

* Board members were informed that Wednesday was the first day for the use of the new medication carts which were recently purchased.

* Learned a certified technician for the new sleep lab has been hired and will probably begin sleep studies beginning Sept. 4.

* Were informed that the furnishings budget for the new suite was kept $25 below the budgeted amount.

* Learned the employee parking lot has been completed and staff are parking in it now.

The Putnam County Hospital board meets at 1 p.m. on the third Wednesday of the month, in the first-floor classroom.

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