Memorial Hospital officials discuss possible affiliation with Guthrie
TOWANDA - The question of whether there will be an affiliation between Memorial Hospital in Towanda and Guthrie Health will be resolved within the next year, Memorial Hospital officials said Thursday at the hospital's annual meeting.
Guthrie is already a "friendly partner" of Memorial Hospital, Memorial Hospital President Gary Baker said at the meeting.
For example, when Guthrie Troy Community Hospital recently lost a general surgeon, a general surgeon from Memorial Hospital - Dr. Marc Alpert - agreed to provide services at the Troy facility one day per week, Memorial Hospital officials said.
And the process of transferring Memorial Hospital patients to Guthrie's Robert Packer Hospital, and admitting them there, has become easier, Baker said.
Memorial Hospital had announced in April that it was exploring the possible affiliation.
Memorial Hospital operated in the black during the past year, John Schoonover, chairman of Memorial Hospital's board of trustees, said.
"Our hospital's revenues exceeded expenses again this year by a comfortable margin," Schoonover said.
But Schoonover reminded those at the meeting that, under the Affordable Care Act, Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements to the hospital will be reduced.
Other significant announcements were made at the meeting.
For example, in March the hospital contracted with a management company, Complete Healthcare Resources Eastern Inc. (CHR), to manage the hospital's skilled nursing unit, which is the hospital's nursing home, Memorial Hospital officials said. The nursing home is located within the hospital's main building.
"I'm very happy about that (the hiring of Complete Healthcare Resources)," Schoonover said.
In the past, the hospital had managed the nursing home itself, said Carol Sager, the hospital's vice-president for development said in an interview.
Under the contract with CHR, the administrator of the nursing home is an employee of Complete Healthcare Resources, she said.
Complete Healthcare Resources "has a lot of resources. They specialize in long-term care and nursing homes," Sager said. "They have a lot of expertise" in the area of nursing homes, she said.
The nursing home administrator, Gail Brown, is the only employee at the nursing home who works for CHR, said Jeff Russell, a spokesman for the hospital.
Since this summer, Memorial Hospital has contracted with Guthrie to provide Dr. Karen Saylor to serve as medical director of the nursing home.
The rest of the nursing home's staff will still be employed by Memorial Hospital itself, Russell said.
With the hiring of CHR, "I think we have a strong long-term care position," Baker said at the meeting.
The hospital has nearly completed the construction of the $7.5 million addition to its personal care home, which will house additional beds for the personal care home as well as offices for Community Health Associates LLC physicians, Schoonover said. The construction of the addition is within budget, he said.
The target date for completing construction of the addition is Nov. 29, Russell said.
In addition, the hospital has also moved to separate itself from Bradford County Dental Health Services, which is a dental clinic for low-income people, Schoonover said.
The dental clinic had joined the hospital about three years ago, because it wanted the hospital's help in managing the clinic, Sager said in the interview.
Now, the clinic "has decided they want to be independent," she said. "They believe they will be able to get more funding and donations as an independent (entity)," Sager said.
The clinic will operate as an independent, non-profit entity at its current location, which is in the building at One Progress Plaza in downtown Towanda, she said.
"Nothing will change, other than they (the clinic) will no longer will be under our umbrella," Sager said. "They will still provide the same services to the same people in the community."
Schoonover also said that the hospital has received $1.4 million in federal dollars to further implement the use of electronic medical records at the hospital. The hospital is "well positioned" to receive additional federal funding for the electronic records work, he said.
Last year, Memorial Hospital's auxiliary raised $129,262 for the hospital, which is the most it has ever raised, said Marguerite Shaner, auxiliary president.
The hospital has also launched a campaign to sell brick pavers to members of the public, which be installed in a walkway and outdoor seating area for the expanded personal care home, Shaner said. The outdoor seating area will be used by residents of the personal care home, and their family members and friends.
The purchaser of the paver decides what the paver's inscription will be, Russell said.
The pavers, which cost $100 apiece, can be used, for example, to memorialize or honor someone, he said.
The money raised from the sale of the pavers goes to the Memorial Hospital foundation, he said.
At the meeting, the following individuals were elected to three-year terms on the hospital's board of trustees: Marianne Addison, Jody Place, Don Brennan, Gerald Shaffer, Peter Broderick, Barb Yanak, and Marjory Kreischer.
James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.