Published On: Wed, Jul 30th, 2014

Good things unveiled at PMH

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ELMER DILLEY, LEFT, longtime Pocahontas Memorial Hospital employee and cousin of the late Donald W. Pethtal, talks with PMH board president Dr. Bob Must. Dilley had the honor of cutting the ribbon Thursday to open the door to the newly refurbished hospital room. PMH hopes that a successful Capital Campaign will make renovation of all patient rooms a reality. J. Graham photo

Elmer Dilley, longtime Pocahontas Memorial Hospital employee and cousin of the late Donald W. Pethtal, talks with PMH board president Dr. Bob Must. Dilley had the honor of cutting the ribbon Thursday to open the door to the newly refurbished hospital room. PMH hopes that a successful Capital Campaign will make renovation of all patient rooms a reality. J. Graham photo

Thursday evening was a busy and joyous time at Pocahontas Memorial Hospital as administration, staff, board members and guests gathered for the dedication of a newly refurbished patient room. Thanks to the generous bequest of Donald W. Pethtal, all of the patient rooms have new, top of the line beds, and Room 114 is new all over – paint, built-ins, touchless faucet, new flooring and curtains, LED lighting and a flat screen TV. Pethtal was born in Durbin, and was an assistant professor at Kent State University in Ashtabula, Ohio. Pethtal passed away in August 2013. His cousins, Carol Dilley and Elmer Dilley, were longtime employees of the hospital when it was located in downtown Marlinton, and Elmer had the privilege of cutting the ribbon Thursday to open the room to the public. Discussions about a Captial Campaign were underway at PMH last fall, when word was received that the facility was the beneficiary of Pethtal’s estate. Plans were set aside in November so the community could focus on helping individuals and businesses displaced by the Main Street fire. PMH has re-started the Capital Campaign discussion with hopes that all the rooms will, over time, receive the same upgrades. Total cost for such a project is $20,000 per room. A tour of the facility revealed other new and much needed improvements. A Pyxis Supply Station has been installed in the emergency department. This system ensures safe and efficient dispensing of medication from one central location. The lab has a new glass and stainless steel refrigerator – replacing the old model which had been used since before 1981. COO Terry Wagner said that such upgrades are common for larger hospitals and may go unnoticed, but for PMH, where staff has had to “make do, these improvements are huge, and very much appreciated.” The good news of the dedication and tour continued at the board meeting Thursday night. For the first time in nine years, PMH ended the year with a positive operating income. CEO Barbara Lay said bad debts write-offs were down, “which reflects the great work that starts at the front desk and continues through the billing process.” Improvement in that billing process could be seen in the Days in AR – accounts receivable. In June 2011, that number stood at 139. For June 2014, it had dropped to 60 days, meaning the hospital has a better handle on its finances due to a quicker turnaround in receiving payments. The PMH Ambulance reported numbers in the black for all 12 months of the fiscal year. Two ambulances were recently added to the fleet – a van for long transports and a four-wheel drive vehicle to ensure safer runs in the winter. Out-patient services and Rural Health Clinic visits maintained strong numbers in June, a normally slow month for healthcare providers. Lay told the board that there is a swing in revenue – from in-patient to out-patient services – which is a nationwide trend. In response to the annual performance improvement program report, board member Janet Ghigo said, “a couple of years ago I was blown away with how good things were, but every year they are that much better. That’s pretty stunning.” And that is the trend we want to keep going, Lay said. PMH has worked with the Studor Group for the past few years, receiving awards for improvement in services and care. Lay asked the board to approve an agreement with Studor for another year. “Is Studor worth it?” board president Dr. Bob Must asked. “Absolutely,” Wagner said. The benefits of the partnership can be seen in customer service, good care and leader evaluation. “It really makes a difference,” Lay said. As part of the annual board meeting, PMH Auxiliary president Doris Weatherholt gave a report on that organization’s activities for the year. “Our year started off with a rough beginning with a lot of negatives,” Weatherholt said. “And looking back over the year, I am surprised and pleased at what we have accomplished.” The group now has a computer which allows them to go online and comparative shop, and they have an online business themselves. They also have high-end products for sale in the gift shop. The Auxiliary continues to support the hospital as it has for 41 years, and Weatherholt reported that the group’s income for the year was $12,867.34, with total disbursements were $11,812.67. The group purchased a mobile phlebotomy cart for the lab this past year, and Weatherholt said they are holding back money to pay half for the new flooring in the hospital dining room. Tending to another matter of housekeeping at the annual meeting, officers were elected for 2014-15. Must will continue as chairman of the board, Ghigo will serve as vice-chair, and Cathy Mosesso retained the office of secretary. The board reviewed organizational goals for the upcoming year in the areas of finances, standards of service, as well as patient, employee and physician satisfaction. “Keep focusing,” Must said. “Improve quality. Improve service.” The board will meet again on August 28 in the hospital conference room. Jaynell Graham may be contacted at jsgraham@poc ahontastimes.com

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- Jaynell Graham can be contacted at jsgraham@pocahontastimes.com