By Mary Alice Murphy

At the Gila Regional Medical Center Board of Trustees meeting Friday, May 30, 2014, the first item of business was to recognize Julie Harrington for 15 years service with GRMC Home Health.

Liz Beilue, auxiliary president, said she had nothing to add to her report, which had been sent out to board members, "except that we need more volunteers. Statewide hospital auxiliaries are losing volunteers." She said the Deming auxiliary was down to eight members. "We have 81 on the books and 71 of them are active."

Holley Hudgins, marketing director, to urging from board members, said word of mouth is the best way to bring in new volunteers, but she said the marketing department would "ramp up recruitment."


Chairman Charles Kelly suggested the recruitment should be directed at newcomers and the newly retired.

Beilue said volunteers often choose the museum over the hospital, but "we're working on bringing in more."

Hudgins also gave the foundation report and said: "It is the custom for the Board of Trustees to be the sponsor of a hole at the upcoming golf tournament. If you say yes, I'll send you an invoice or give me your money today."

Chief Executive Officer Brian Cunningham presented highlights of his report. "We continue negotiations with a general surgeon, Dr. Davis. We hope they will come to fruition."

He said ongoing leadership training is being done in-house. "When the need arises, we can go outside, but within GRMC our leaders are doing their research and are doing the training themselves."

"We have re-energized the Government Affairs Committee, with Kelly as the chairman," Cunningham said. "We are looking at the Affordable Care Act and doing analyses on what will impact the hospital and how it will impact the hospital. We are catching up and will be prepared for the future."

Board Member Jeremiah Garcia asked how the hospital was doing with using references to make sure the right decisions on hiring were made.

"They are all part of the process," Cunningham said.

"Dr. Robinson and Dr. Meyerowitz know Dr. Davis," Chief of Staff Dr. Victor Nwachuku said. "We also call all the references to make sure they agree with what they write."

Garcia said physician recruitment is a "full-time job. Will we continue that position?"

Cunningham confirmed that the recruitment position would continue, with an additional duty, that of liaison to the physicians. "We have expanded the role to be for all recruitment."

Garcia asked about preparing for the federal health care act, and wished to confirm there were no hospital admission issues at GRMC.

"That comment in the report was from Federal Healthcare News," Cunningham said. "We are heavily involved with training for our physician staff. With the admissions issue being put on hold at the federal level, it has given us time to regroup."

Chief Nursing Officer Pat Sheyka stood for questions.

Garcia asked about potential candidates for the maternal-child director. Sheyka said they had been impressed with one candidate, who was working in Arkansas and didn't like the humidity.

Chief Operating Officer Dan Otero said the commissioning for the linear accelerator is almost completed. "We expect to see the first patients June 11. For June 24, you will receive invitations to an open house. We completed the patient access assessment and will change to be more timely for making appointments."

Chief of Clinical Services Ray Goellner said he wanted to highlight an item in his report. "We are continuing to work on a partnership with LabCorp. The process wouldn't be moving at all without Hidalgo Medical Services and Dr. (Darrick) Nelson. We hope it will bring increased lab testing and revenue to the hospital."

Controller Elizabeth Allred said a glitch in the calculation for the graphs caused an error in them. "Disregard the graphs in the report. The Excel spreadsheets are correct."

"The good news is we presumed that days of cash would go down, but we got an interim payment of $1.8 million from the state," Allred said. "It is more and sooner than we expected. We will have about half a million dollars more than anticipated."

She also said the overall loss is coming down about $200,000 a month.

Otero clarified for the Beat after the meeting, as Allred had left the room, that one month was an $800,000 loss, the next was $600,000 and the following month $400,000.

"We hope to be break even for the last month of the year," Allred said. "Our huge outlay was a payment of $1.8 million for the linear accelerator, but we are expecting $2.25 million from the state to reimburse us." Otero told the Beat that the funding comes from the state cigarette tax.

"Cash is holding well," Allred said, during the meeting. "Our days of cash at the end of April were 129.1. Our average daily spend is down to about $177,000. Our full-time employees are 61 below last year."

In answer to a question from the Beat, before the meeting, Cunningham said the days of cash at the end of last fiscal year, the end of June, were 109, making the 129.1 of the end of April be up 20 days of cash over not quite a year.

Garcia complimented the hospital administration for getting control of overtime expenses.

"Overall, it's good news," Kelly said.

Nwachuku, in his Chief of Staff report, said patient reviews were being started. "I think it will be helpful. The areas we need improvement in are pneumonia and sepsis. We will have someone come in to do some training."

Kelly said the Executive Committee met and set the agendas for meetings.

The Quality Improvement Committee, headed by Garcia, is "headed in the right direction to improve care. Mortality has declined."

Pam Archibald presented the Financial Committee report and made several motions, which were seconded and approved.

The first was an agreement for $10,000 with Architecture Workshop LLC, Kevin Robinson, to work on plans for the renovation of Surgery Services. The plans would take about 90 days.

The second was an on-call anesthesiology agreement with Aaron Rudd, CRNA, for $250 per extra shift, not to exceed $30,000 a year or $120,000 over four years.

The last was a hospital blood services agreement with United Blood Services for about $253,000 per year.

Garcia, in the absence of Plant and Facility Committee Chairman Robert Morales, Sr., said the group is preparing for the upcoming year. "The pool at The Wellness Center is almost ready."

He said nothing out of the ordinary came up at the Human Resources Committee meeting, although contract services are a bit higher. "But it seems we're on target and staying within our guidelines. We also talked about succession plans." Hudgins said Kellerman is in the succession plan for marketing.

Cunningham said the hospital is working to get input on a caregiver survey being developed internally. "We are on track to roll it out the beginning of July."

Hudgins announced that a community open house for pain management was taking place at 3:30 that afternoon in the old VA Clinic building.

The board members went into executive session to discuss medical staff appointments and reappointments, quality improvement and risk management.

The Beat also asked Cunningham about turnover at the hospital. He said turnover was about 14 percent at the end of last fiscal year, and at the end of April was at 19 percent, but the issue was being addressed.


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