An interim chief financial officer working to get the organization’s finances in line told the Powell Valley Healthcare board Nov. 25 he believes the NextGen electronic records system is viable and will function properly soon, despite the problems plaguing it for more than a year.
“I think a lot of the negative things we’ve heard about NextGen is that people haven’t taken the time to get more experience on it,” said David Britton, a HealthTech employee who is filling the position until a permanent chief financial officer can be hired.
Sandra Ehman, the former chief financial officer, resigned last month. She had been with Powell Valley Healthcare for about a year and a half.
Powell Hospital District Trustee Larry Parker, who serves as treasurer for the PVHC board, said November’s PVHC finance committee meeting “ended favorably. We probably got some of the most valuable information we’ve received for quite a while. While there is a recognition that it is not totally complete, they were numbers we could work with, a lot closer than where we have been for the last six months.”
Other positive signs include a decrease in the amount of money still in accounts receivable, and an increase in cash on hand. As of last week, cash on hand was equal to the amount of money it would take to operate Powell Valley Healthcare for 14 days. The board’s goal is to increase that to nearly two months’ worth of cash on hand.
Because of the organization’s financial decline over the past several months, the Powell Valley Healthcare Board voted last week to approve the sale of the Heartland Assisted Living Center to the Powell Hospital Board for its appraised value of $1 million.
The land already belonged to the district, but PVHC owned the building because of the debt involved to build it, Bill Patten, PVHC chief executive officer, said in an email.
That was necessary because First Bank of Wyoming previously denied a request to increase Powell Valley Healthcare’s $2 million line of credit by another $1 million to cover operating costs while revenue was down due to the NextGen transition, he said.
“The previous lease agreement said that when the debt was paid off, the asset would be given to the district,” Patten said. ”So since we could not legally have the district give, lend, or obligate its funds for PVHC’s benefit, selling a real asset allowed us to legally move funds from PHD to PVHC.”
On the medical side, new doctors are leading the way in using the NextGen electronic medical record system in the Powell Valley Clinic and at Powell Valley Hospital.
Patten said Dr. Angela Mills, a family practice physician who was hired recently, has previous experience with a NextGen system and uses it successfully in both the clinic and in-patient modules.
Physician assistant Lisa Smith also is using the system. She said she’d only used electronic records systems and didn’t want to use paper records, Patten said.
Those examples “say to me that the system is not so broken that it should be pulled out,” Patten said.
He told the board, “I think we’ve reached the point where we no longer need to talk about divorce. We may need some marriage counseling, but I think we can make it work.”
That counseling may begin on Wednesday, with on-site NextGen representatives scheduled to meet and network with medical staff and to observe, collect data and meet with the PVHC NextGen team. The public is invited to attend a meeting from 4-5:30 p.m. Wednesday, when the NextGen team will make a report to the PVHC board, medical staff and leadership team.
The organization’s “Journey 2 Excellence” also is progressing, with training sessions continuing, both in large groups and in department-specific discussions.
A new business office manager, Carla Kohrman, came on board last month, replacing interim manager Lynn Cheramie.
“She and Lynn had a week overlap, and Lynn remains available to us if we need additional support,” Patten said.
He said Korman has a strong background as the former director of a consolidated business office for more than 20 hospitals.
“She has roots in Cody and wanted to get back,” he said.
Britton said he is willing to help with the hiring process for the person who will replace him as the chief financial officer.
“This hospital, even though it’s a small hospital, from an accounting standpoint is very complicated,” he said.
He noted Powell Valley Healthcare also includes medical clinics, a nursing home, an assisted living center, a home health department and a hospice service. “If someone doesn’t have the experience necessary, they’re going to get lost pretty quick. There’s a lot to it. ... It’s rare to see this much business flowing through a hospital this small.”