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Hospital concerns

Report raises PMH future questions

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Posted: Thursday, March 6, 2014 9:30 am

Purcell Municipal Hospital Chief Executive Officer Jim Berry’s report Monday night to the public works authority left some officials wondering about the future of the city-owned facility.

Berry, who gave 90 days notice to the hospital’s board of directors last week, told the PWA that closure of the James C. Nance Memorial Bridge has only added to the hospital’s problems.

One in four patients seen at PMH come from the other side of the bridge, Berry said.

“That (closure) has hit us pretty hard,” he added.

With most emergency cases originating east of the river now reportedly going to Norman Regional Hospital, Berry told the authority to expect a toll on February numbers here.

Charges for the month were down about $1 million in February. January numbers were also down, he added.

“We’re really struggling with a new way of doing business,” Berry explained. “You start feeling like you’re running out of answers.”

Chairman David Lee asked, “Are we waging a battle we can’t win? I think the reality is ... are we and should we be in the hospital business?”

Lee expressed concern over Purcell’s financial resources to keep the hospital doors open.

“No doubt this community certainly needs the hospital,” he added.

The hospital’s situation hasn’t been all gloom, Berry noted, pointing to some significant accomplishments in the past six years.

Since July 2008, the hospital’s annual revenue grew from $22 million to $35 million. Staff expense for the same period, as measured in full time equivalents increased by just $1.5 million between 2008 and 2013.

“We have acknowledged community needs and worked diligently to meet those in an efficient, effective manner,” Berry quoted from his resignation letter. “We have expanded the active medical staff by three providers; advanced the emergency department physician staffing from part-time to full time; added mammography, nuclear medicine, MRI and sleep studies; and introduced pain management, ENT, pulmonology, nephrology and OB/GYN at PMH’s Specialty Clinic while expanding its orthopedic, ophthalmological, general surgery and cardiology offerings.”

Authority members hope to schedule a joint meeting with the PMH board later this month.

Berry said a search is underway for his replacement and told the PWA that “if there’s an opportunity to promote from within, that’s something they should look at seriously.”

“I believe there’s a good possibility a hospital can survive here,” he added.

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