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MCCH hopes new signage will ease confusion

MURRAY – For decades, navigating the campus of Murray-Calloway County Hospital (MCCH) required a compass – there was the south tower, the north tower, the west entrance. Those days are no more. Now, entrances are both numbered and color-coded.

“I think it’s really attractive,” CEO Jerry Penner told the Board of Trustees at its September meeting. “Rather what we’ve done in the past with the different signage throughout, you’d get really confused. ‘Go to the West Entrance.’ Well, west entrance going into endoscopy? They confused patients for years and years and years. Now, you can say, ‘Go to 5.’ You can figure it out. There’s a nice number 5 out there to show you where the Cancer Center is.”

Starting at the main entrance to the South Tower and moving clockwise around the campus, entrances to the hospital are now labeled as follows:

· No. 1 (blue) is the hospital’s main entrance, formerly the south entrance,

· No. 2 (red) is the emergency room,

· No. 3 (gray) is the Ninth Street entrance, formerly the west entrance,

· No. 4 (yellow) is the Poplar Street entrance, which was the main entrance to the hospital before the South Tower was built and most recently known as the north entrance,

· No. 5 (purple) is the new Regional Cancer Center on Eighth Street, and

· Nos. 6E and 7W (both green) are the Medical Arts Buildings East and West, respectively.

Penner advised it would take some time before all of the new signs are installed but noted, once the project is complete, he thinks it will be very helpful to patients.

“How many times I say, ‘Yeah, go to the north tower entrance,’” Penner regaled. “‘Well, I’m not sure where that is.’ ‘Oh, it’s off of Poplar Street.’ So, I end up going, ‘You know where the football field is and where the baseball field is? How about Murray Middle School?’ Now you can say, ‘Poplar Street entrance.’ … So, a lot of things, I hope, will be less confusing to our patients moving forward.”

The board also heard a presentation from Director of Quality/Risk/Case Management Beth Killion on process improvements made over the last year and areas of focus for the upcoming year. Hospitals use process improvement plans to improve patient outcomes, improve staff efficiency and reduce waste associated with process failures.

Killion largely focused on explaining why the hospital tracks certain metrics, how they are tracked and where data are reported. MCCH must report quality data to various entities, including the Joint Commission, Center for Medicare/Medicaid Services (CMS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Kentucky Hospital Association, and significant amounts of funding are tied back to the hospital’s performance on those metrics.

For example, thanks to meeting 100% of it quality goals this year, the hospital will receive over $300,000 through the Hospital Rate Improvement Program (HRIP), a program designed to bring Medicaid reimbursement rates more in-line with commercial payers.

Future initiatives, Killion said, include recording baseline data related to hypoglycemia events, anticoagulant safety, opioid safety and social determinants of health so that those data can be tracked moving forward.

In the finance report, CFO John Bradford reported the hospital experienced an operating loss for the month of August, bringing year-to-date (YTD) operating income into the red again.

Inpatient revenue was 13% under budget in August; however, that was overcome by revenues from outpatient services and physician practices exceeding expectations by 11% and 8%, respectively. Bradford cited higher volumes in infusion therapy and radiation therapy as well as cardiology and emergency room visits as the main contributors to the surplus.

“Here we are, 60 days into operation,” Penner said of the cancer center later in the meeting, during his leadership report. “Infusions are up 30% and radiation (oncology) is up 25%. Wow. That’s very impressive that we’re already starting to draw that sort of volume back to our organization. I think this thing is going to pay some big dividends on us; I know it had a price tag to it, but cancer is very prevalent in our area.”

Ultimately, gross patient revenues in August were 4% over plan at $49.7 million. At $13.9 million, net patient revenue exceeded budget by $127,000, or 1%. Total operating revenue for August was $14.1 million; however, expenses of $14.7 million were $717,000, or 5%, over budget. That translated to an operating loss for the month of $555,000 and brought YTD operating loss to $496,000, overcoming the $60,000 YTD operating income observed in July.

EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) was also negative $543,000, stemming from investment losses to the tune of $905,000; however, YTD EBITDA is $19.3 million, which is $6.6 million over plan. Capital expenditures of $1 million brought YTD expenditures to $17.9 million. The hospital ended the month with $80 million in total cash and investments, or 189 days cash on hand.

In other business, the board approved reappointments for Dr. Carole Scharf, radiation oncologist, and Abby Dowdy, clinical psychologist. Initial appointments were approved for Amanda Terwilliger, CRNA, and 10 diagnostic radiologists who are part of a new teleradiology group that will provide support on nights and weekends.

The next regular board meeting will be at noon on Wednesday, Oct. 25, in the hospital’s Garrison Board Room and via Zoom.

Sentinel Staff

Jessica Paine
I’m Jessica Paine, founder of The Murray Sentinel. You may know me from my time as a citizen journalist, running the Calloway Covid-19 Count page on Facebook, or you may be familiar with my more recent work for another local news outlet. Being that I’m “from here,” you may have known me since I was “knee-high to a grasshopper,” although you knew me as Jessica Jones. But whether you know me or not, I’m glad you found your way here.

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