by Richard Uhlhorn
At Lake Chelan Health’s board meeting on Tuesday, April 27, the board and CEO discussed Facilities including the transition plan for the current hospital building.
CEO George Rohrich told the board that the plan was not ready yet. “The Facilities Plan will go back to the Facilities Committee and then to the board when it is completed.,” said Rohrich. “Staff will have to do the work and bring it to the committee.”
The plan will, according to Rohrich detail what the hospital will come up with. Questions like… “Do we have the space for everybody,” stated Rohrich.
Chairperson Mary Murphy said she hopes the plan utilizes the best use of what is available including the disposition of what is not needed. “It should have not only an assessment of our needs, but how they are being met,” said Murphy. She added that the plan needs to bring the board and the public up to what is happening with facilities and the potential surplus of the old hospital. “Things are very different then what we looked to do two years ago.” said Murphy.
Boardmember Jordana LaPorte asked if the Facilities Plan would be available by the July Strategic Meeting. Rohrich replied it would be finished by that meeting.
Dave Yackell joined the board and gave a report on the QHR Health efforts to deliver progress in bringing the hospital’s accounts receivable down. Currently he reported that average ‘patient discharge to billing cycle is down from 51 days to 37 with an eventual target of 10 days before a patient is billed for services.
He said that 64 percent of the issues delaying billing was coding errors, missing charges, and documentation that does not support charges being billed.
The board expressed some concerns with the contract and Murphy stated that there have been challenges along the way. “What is the corrective actions,” she asked? Murphy said detailed discussions of the concerns need to be discussed in the Finance Committee and that Yackell needs to be invited into those meetings.
New Board member Jeremy Jaech agreed with that and asked what the roadblocks have been. “The contract is not what was expected,” he said. Board member Mary Signorelli stated that there are some key milestones missing from some of the initiatives.
Murphy suggested that a special meeting might be useful in correcting the issues.
Another issue that is particularly bothering LaPorte is the possibility of expensive Change Orders during the new hospital construction. Rohrich explained the policy concerning Change Orders. “In a nutshell, they will come out of the contingency fund.” LaPorte asked if anything over $25,000 could be approved by email. Jaech was explicit in his comment that no work should be done until approved. “The goal is to maintain a fund. You can’t go beyond an approved budget.”
Rohrich replied, “We cannot exceed our budget.” The contingency fund has approximately $1.4 million in it which is five percent of the entire budget. LaPorte asked who would approve the change orders? Rohrich stated that there was a process in place and that he was on call 24/7.
The hospital is still facing financial issues and CFO Cheryl Cornwell told the board that they are waiting for 100% forgiveness on the first $3 million of CARES money they received which will bring the hospital back to a secure financial position. “There are a lot of moving parts,” she said. “The restricted funds are not doing us a whole lot of good.”
She feels they are still several months away from an answer on the federal money.
Financially the hospital suffered from being forced to shut down regular services for several months during the pandemic along with the decision to shut down the Sanctuary which affected the hospital’s cash flow.
In the meantime, Bouten Construction is moving dirt at the new hospital site across Apple Blossom Drive from Columbia Valley Health.