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Tuesday, April 23, 2024
HomeNewsLocal newsHospital Board Hears SRMC Cost-Saving Methods

Hospital Board Hears SRMC Cost-Saving Methods

Tina Comissiong, Schneider Regional Medical Center CEO, bottom right, talks about the hospital at the monthly board meeting. (Facebook live stream screenshot)

In addition to approving medical appointments for the Juan F. Luis Hospital and Schneider Regional Medical Center, members of the V.I. Government Hospital and Health Facilities Corporation Territorial Board heard efforts to decrease spending and increase income by the St. Thomas hospital at Wednesday’s monthly meeting.

Tina Comissiong, SRMC’s chief executive officer, told the board the hospital has only nine days of cash on hand and listed some of ways the hospital hopes to increase its reserves.

The CEO outlined some of the expenses the facility shouldn’t have to cover, including $365,000 a month (at the Medicaid rate) for nine patients who do not need hospital care, but have nowhere to go. The Human Services Department says it cannot pay or re-locate the so-called “boarders” without additional funding, according to Comissiong.

“The government is garnishing SRMC to pay WAPA and GEC so at the same time, the government should garnish other agencies to pay SRMC,” she said.

Also, the hospital has billed the Health Department for $26,000 monthly in WAPA charges for Health’s area in the facility. However, DOH has not given a date when this contribution will begin but Comissiong said she appreciated that Health adjusted a due date for a payment from SRMC.

The hospital also has been working with the Labor Department to try to collect “many outstanding” worker’s comp claims. Forms have been submitted and resubmitted, she said. Labor has acknowledged a “significant payable” to SRMC but has not submitted a timeline for making the payments.

“The Bureau of Corrections and other agencies also acknowledge outstanding amounts due to SRMC,” Comissiong said.

Additionally, the hospital is working to reduce rates on payer contracts to collect more from entities such as Cigna Insurance. They are looking to reduce overtime and contract labor expenses as well.

“While we have made great progress reducing our RN expenses, we must also reduce our locums and Allied Health temporary help expenses,” she said. Locums are off-island physicians contracted for a specific period of time.

By the end of the year, the CEO said SRMC will have filled 90 percent of the nursing vacancies and she wants to plan joint recruitments with JFL.

The St. Thomas hospital is adding new services — gastroenterology, nephrology, dermatology, interventional cardiology and a wellness clinic — to increase income.

The CEO said ongoing concerns include the low reimbursement rate from Medicaid for patient services, the malfunctioning air conditioning system and funding the Meditech expansion. Along with JFL, the two hospitals have applied for American Rescue Plan Act funds to pay for the online health records system. Delaying the installation increases the cost, Comissiong pointed out, and consultants for the project will leave next week without new funding.

In addition to the CEO’s report, the board approved a contract for Hospital Billing and Collections Services, Ltd. until June 2024, when JFL intends to take over the billing and collections for the facility.

Medical staff were approved by the board and included 15 radiologists for teleradiology, five medical staff reappointments and three new physicians — all for JFL.

There were no announcements reported after the executive session, according to Chairman Christopher Finch.

Board members attending the virtual meeting were Finch, Dr. Jerry Smith, Jenifer O’Neil, Kevin McCurdy, Dr. Frank Odlum, Greta Hart-Hyndman, Fay John-Baptiste and Health Commissioner Justa Encarnacion.


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