PMH works to ensure healthcare and financial stability

Mary Beth Barr, CEO
Pocahontas Memorial Hospital

Pocahontas Memorial Hospital (PMH) stands ready to serve the community and will weather this current storm and come out stronger, just as it has over the past 94 years.

Realizing that revenues were quickly declining in recent weeks due to the COVID 19 issues, the Administrative Team met with the Pocahontas County Commission in early April to review the current cash flow forecast.

Like many other small and rural hospitals across the United States, PMH struggles to produce a positive operating margin each year. This struggle is due to many factors including a declining population, deteriorating inpatient admissions, and a changing payor mix (high Medicare and Medicaid population). PMH also provides care to patients who are uninsured or underinsured with high deductibles and co-pays.

The Administrative Team, along with Board of Trustees (BOT) members J. L. Clifton and Tim McClung, met with the commission to explain the need for a cash flow infusion at this vulnerable time. The Hospital Administration forecasted a need of approximately $500,000 over the next 90 days in order to supplement the declining revenues. In addition, the BOT members had directed Hospital Administration to pursue the opportunity to add an established pulmonologist on staff to serve the community. This need for access to care and specialty services was identified in the 2019 Community Health Needs Assess- ment.

The Administration reported to the commission that, in addition to the funding needed for payroll and operational expenses, they were requesting additional funds for start-up costs of approximately $125,000 for this new service (not $500,000 as incorrectly stated in the commission meeting article in The Pocahontas Times on April 8, 2020). The start-up funding would provide capital for the costs associated with office space and equipment. Since the meeting, the hospital has secured funding for this start-up expense.

Proactively, PMH has secured an additional line of credit with Pendleton Community Bank to assist with payroll and operational expenses. The bank is also working closely with the hospital to assist in applying for other federal loans and grant opportunities (if deemed eligible) that are being offered to all hospitals throughout the country.

Over the past 18 months, the Board’s Strategic Planning Committee has been very engaged and actively working with Hospital Administration to ensure efficiency while exploring opportunities for growth. The Board has quickly recognized the importance of PMH reaching out beyond its four walls to provide needed services throughout the county, including outpatient and clinic services in Green Bank/Cass and Snowshoe.

At this crucial time, it is imperative to recognize the dedication of the current medical staff and PMH team members. The PMH Emergency Preparedness and Special Covid 19 Task Force has been in place since early March to ensure our employees have appropriate policies/procedures and personal protective equipment available. The PMH team is continuing to work tirelessly to ensure readiness when the influx of patients may occur. In spite of declining outpatient visits during this crisis, PMH has been able to avoid any furloughs or temporary lay-offs at this time.

It is also important to take a moment to thank all of our fellow citizens of the great county of Pocahontas for their generosity. Many are praying, sending words of encouragement, supplies and food for our staff. We applaud our citizens who have taken the mandate of “staying home” seriously, as this provides another layer of protection for our staff who have no choice in reporting to work.

Our PMH family has certainly felt the love and support of many throughout this ordeal. One of my favorite quotes from Robert H. Schuller is certainly appropriate for us now: “Tough times never last, but tough people do!”

Thanks to all of our “tough” folks who are committed to continuing to love and support our little hospital – while we passionately provide compassionate and quality healthcare to our beloved community, as well as drive the economic engine for our county. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to me at mbarr@pmhwv.org or call 304-799-1020.

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