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Construction gains speed on hospital projects

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By John R. Schirmer

Leader staff

Workers have taken advantage of recent sunny weather to pick up the pace on two construction projects at Howard Memorial Hospital.

CEO Debra Wright  told the board of directors April 28 that framing was near completion on the second Medical Office Building, and workers were bricking the outpatient geriatric building.

“I think the contractor has made up lost time [caused by] inclement weather,” Wright said. However, the projects are still behind the original timeframe for completion, according to Wright.

The buildings were scheduled to have been completed this summer.

Wright said plans are underway to order equipment and furnishings for the geriatric facility.

Board members heard a number of other reports during their April meeting, which lasted more than two hours.

Wright said a prospective physician has changed his mind about coming to Nashville in 2017. “He sent me a very nice e-mail explaining his decision, but I am very disappointed,” Wright said.

“I have contacted the recruiter at Merritt Hawkins to renew our search,” Wright said. She also has a meeting scheduled today with a prospect who is interested in a rural practice and will begin the family medicine residency at AHEC in Texarkana this fall and finish in June 2018.

Wright said there were 45 participants in all who attended one of four recent focus group meetings. Facilitators from Arkansas State University said the participants were engaged and provided good information regarding healthcare needs in the community, Wright said. She has asked to receive the report of findings by the end of May to review at a strategic planning retreat.

Dr. Syed Javed has asked for more classes to be taught as part of the Diabetes and You program because he has many patients who would benefit from attending, Wright said. A schedule is being prepared to show when the classes will be taught throughout the year.

CFO Bill Craig said Howard Memorial recorded a profit of $6,315 for March, compared to a budgeted loss of $56,787. “This is a favorable variance of $63,102,” he said.

Volume was the primary driver for the favorable financials in March, Craig told the board. The hospital recorded an average daily census of 7.2 patients. Outpatient visits were 5.2 percent above budget. Emergency Department visits were 16.6 percent above budget.

HMH reported 31.0 days revenue in accounts receivable, compared to a target of 45 days.

The hospital has 125.6 days cash on hand, with a target of 145 days.

Craig reported a favorable payor mix during March.

Howard Memorial will have about $800,000 to invest, and representatives of Morgan Stanley and Edward Jones made presentations about investment opportunities with their respective companies.

Charles Lincoln of Little Rock represented Morgan Stanley. Josh Tice of Nashville represented Edward Jones.

Board members will consider the presentations, with a decision expected later.

Rob Thorpe of Hagan Newkirk provided an update of the hospital’s 401K plan.

Board members agreed to nominate Julie Rhodes of UA-Cossatot to succeed Tim Pinkerton on the board.