RIP Blackhawk; repair job begins
The RHD formally closed out the Blackhawk era by rejecting the essentially defunct company’s still-on-thetable bid to purchase the Richards Memorial Hospital, then looked aggressively to the future.
Physicians either fired or forced out by Blackhawk, which operated the hospital from 2006 to late 2010, are returning.
Jeff Madison, who was the RMH administrator instrumental in helping the facility get back on its feet in the early 2000s, has returned as a consultant.
And morale in the hospital, which apparently came within days of being closed by Blackhawk in November, has shot up dramatically since Kevin Owens of Georgetown purchased the imploding company, specifically to save RMH.
But board members have no illusions about the size of the task ahead.
“We’re seeing some pretty grim projections,” board- president Carl Hudson said. “To make this place survive we’re really going to have to work hard.”
REJECTION—It was merely a formality, the rejection of Blackhawk’s $ 800,000-plus bid to purchase the Richards Memorial facility and its land.
“Blackhawk, as we knew it, doesn’t ex ist a ny more,” Dr. Weed told The Reporter. “Kevin Owens now owns the three hospitals Blackhawk was operating, Rockdale, Bastrop (closed by Blackhawk in November) and Mangum, Oklahoma.”
Dr. Weed, a former RHD board president, attended Monday’s meeting as medical staff chief.
Until last spring Blackhawk was contemplating building either a new hospital or new clinic in Rockdale.
PH YSICI A NS— Dr. Weed reported some physicians who were fired or forced out during the Blackhawk crisis are returning.
“Dr. Jonathan Sheinberg (cardiologist) has returned to practice here,” Dr. Weed said. “Dr. Franklin Chen (internal medicine) will be back in February. We’re talking with Dr. Janelle House (osteopathy). She didn’t actually leave, but we can now go ahead and discuss contract renewal,” he said.
He added that Dr. Clyde Smith has continued to use the RMH operating room and now a relationship between the hospital and the surgeon can be formalized.
RMH will also re-establish its cath lab, inside the hospital, in 120 to 160 days,” he said.
“Because of unknown business decisions ( by Blackhawk), six of our top 12 revenue producers were terminated,” Dr. Weed said.
DOCTOR-PATIENT—Madison, who presented an extensive report, said a key factor in the hospital’s decline in revenue has been doctor-patient encounters.
“ The year 2010 was actually heading toward being a strong year before Blackhawk fell apart,” he said.
But the year ended with revenue declining by $4.3 million, he said.
Owens’ acquisition should help. Dr. Weed said three Austin Metro area diagnostic centers, owned by Owens, are now RMH diagnostic centers. “We’re getting revenue from them right now,” he said.
Dr. Weed reported the Little River Healthcare’s Cameron clinic has continued to flourish even with the opening of a Scott & White clinic in Cameron.
INDIGENT CA R E—In an obvious belt-tightening mood, directors are taking a close look at RMH’s indigent care program.
Joel Suits, director of quality compliance, said RMH is currently providing free indigent care to 55 persons but only 22 of them reside in the district.
Hudson asked if those persons should be served under Milam County’s indigent health program.
“ We need to take a look at our indigent health guidelines,” Hudson said. “We (hospital district) had been paying Blackhawk $90,000 a month for indigent health care services.”
Suits is researching the district’s guidelines for indigent care eligibility.
BUDGETS—Directors also okayed budgets for the RHD—not the hospital itself—and the assisted living wing.
The RHD budget reflected a projected deficit of $156,000.
Assisted living bottom line is estimated at $1,500 per month profit. Hudson termed the situation “tight” and said directors must determine “if we want to continue assisted living.”
RMH directors also:
• Heard Hudson report the IRS has told the hospital it owes $669,000. RMH officials believe the money was already paid and are searching for documentation.
• Contracted w it h Tommy Grimes, Certifed Public Accountant.
• Received the first monthly report from new Chief Financial Officer Peggy Bergfeld.