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PMH on solid financial ground

During the monthly Pocahontas Memorial Hospital (PMH) Board of Trustees meeting, hospital management expressed gratitude and happiness for the hospital’s improved financial situation. The financial footing of Pocahontas Memorial Hospital is as solid as it’s been for several years.

Chief Financial Officer Melissa Kane reported net income of $438,361 for January and nearly $1.4 million for fiscal year 2014, which began July 1. After five straight months of losses, the hospital’s Rural Health Clinic produced profits in both December ($71,190) and January ($71,190).

“We’re very proud of their revenue for the month,” said Kane. “Their visits were up, their revenue was up and expenses were down. That says a lot for our community – seeking us as their providers.”

Board Chairman Dr. Robert Must thanked the staff.

“The fiscal condition of the hospital has never been so good, since I’ve been associated with it,” he said. “This is a wonderful thing. I thank the management team and all of the employees, who worked really hard to bring it to this point.”

Kane said the hospital billing office received 50 new applications in January for exoneration of medical bills.

“Out of those 50 new applications, 11 have already been approved for Medicaid coverage for 2014 in the current month,” she said. “That has to do with the Affordable Care Act. They’re now covered with insurance and we will be able to bill the insurance, instead of having to put it through charity care.”

The hospital receives a higher payment for services when it charges an insurer – such as Medicaid – than it does when it is reimbursed by Medicaid for charity care. Increased numbers of patients covered by Medicaid is expected to translate into higher revenue for PMH.

The Charleston Gazette reported last month that West Virginia has exceeded expectations for expanded Medicaid enrollment under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). More than 87,000 of roughly 130,000 eligible residents of the state have enrolled in the expanded Medicaid program.

During the board meeting, an Air Evac Lifeteam helicopter landed at the hospital landing zone. Air Evac Lifeteam is the largest independently-owned air ambulance service in the country. Hospital CEO Barbara Lay said the helicopter crews do more than transport patients.

“Air Evac – they were in here today and they taught an advanced cardiac life support class,” she said. “They have been extremely supportive in coming in and providing access to our staff for on-site, free education. We did not receive that in the past. That is very beneficial for the hospital, for our staff and our patients.”

Board member Amon Tracey asked if the hospital makes money from the helicopter service, like it does from its ambulance service.

“They do their own billing,” replied Kane. “They’re not a part of us.”

Tracey decried the high cost of the service.

“About everybody that I see or hear talk – they say how high the helicopter prices are,” he said. “I expect there’s not a person sitting at this table that hasn’t heard the same thing. What do we do about it? I don’t know.”

Must said the hospital is responsible only for ensuring an emergency situation that requires airborne transport.

“We just have to make sure that it’s justified when we call them,” he said. “But then, the charges are out of our control.”

Health insurance can pay in full or in part for a medical air evacuation. In order to fill a potential gap that insurance might not cover, Air Evac Lifeline offers memberships, starting at $65 per year, which completely cover the cost of an evacuation by an Air Evac Lifeline helicopter. For more information, see

The next PMH Board of Trustees meeting is scheduled for March 27 at 6 p.m. The meetings are open to the public.












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