The Gila Regional Medical Center Board of Trustees more than doubled their normal meeting time, but shared more information.

Board of Trustees President Jeremiah Garcia recognized two incoming commissioners'Harry Browne and Alicia Edwards'who were in attendance.

Frances Day, Auxiliary president, added to her report. "We recognized Patsy Miller for her 23 years as an auxiliary member, 22 years of which she was gift shop manager. She decided to retire. Mary Jo Tillman is the temporary gift shop manager."

Trustee Tony Trujillo said it was important to highlight the volunteer hours since 2002. The auxiliary originated in 1969.

"I expect we'll celebrate when we reach 200,000 hours," Day said.

Dr. Victor Nwachuku, chairman of the nominating committee for board officers, said the committee chose to keep Garcia as president, Nwachuku as vice president and Magdaleno Manzanares as secretary-treasurer. The slate was approved unanimously and will serve until June when new board members come in.

In the Chief Executive Report, Brian Cunningham, thanked the auxilians. "Besides the volunteer hours, they also raise funds and will donate about $10,000 for pieces of equipment that caregivers have requested."

He also recognized two representatives from AFSCME and the Emergency Medical Services for the long, but smooth negotiations on the bargaining unit.

Cunningham also pointed out an article about the University of New Mexico. "Gila Regional is clearly not the only hospital challenged. It's also across the country large and small. We continue to move forward with items. We will update you on cost savings and revenue generation, while we vet several items with the board."

"Our current situation is very similar to three years ago, when the hospital was $9 million in the hole," he continued. "The process issues at that time caused a lot of angst and rightfully so. My response is the same now as then. It's always about the work. Yes, there are differences and new challenges, but compassionate leadership can solve them."

The hospital is working on the strategic plan set out in the board retreat. "The work is similar to that seen across the country. If we get sidetracked by opinions, it will slow us down. The leadership responsibility is to be focused on the real work. You will have my best through 5 p.m. on my last day (Feb. 3)."

Assistant Vice President of Administration Liana Ryan said of all of the initiatives within the clinic setting, 31 of them, some have been completed and "we will continue to work on others."

Garcia asked about the 14 percent in the revenue cycle for creating dashboards in the clinical networks.

"We are trying to capture metrics from each clinic," Ryan said.

Garcia noted another item on the list, which was an immediate increase in revenue due to coding improvements.

"We have also already expanded cardiology hours," Ryan said.

Nwachuku asked who was doing the clinical reviews, to which Ryan said specialists had been brought in, because we want to maximize revenue."

Chief Financial Officer Mike Metts said that in the first three months of the fiscal year, the hospital had a 98 percent payment of bills.

Trustee Joel Schram asked if had ever been 100 percent.

"I don't have that information," Metts said. "We are now going through certain payors and looking at the rates to see if they are market-based.

"I am visualizing that we are billing through Athena and getting paid," Metts said.

Trujillo asked if the inventory Metts is talking about is all the claims or just some.

"It is an inventory of the total volume of the clinics' encounters and the bills sent that have been paid," Metts replied.

Ryan said the trustees would see updates with the percentages next month.

Chief Nursing Officer Peggy White said her department had the privilege of hosting the New Mexico Organization of Nurse Leaders the past couple of weeks. "They are excited about what they are hearing about our program to use interns and will be taking it statewide. They have asked us to go to a couple of other rural hospitals to introduce them to what we're trying to do here."

She said for her second highlight she would tag team with the Plant and Facility Committee report.

"Can you clarify what the Jacobus consultants are exploring?" Garcia asked White.

"A member of Jacobus is going around to the departments, within nursingG

Live from Silver City

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