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Howard Memorial Hospital applies for ARPA funds

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By John R. Schirmer

News-Leader staff

Howard Memorial Hospital is one of 16 Arkansas hospitals which have participated in a review in order to apply for American Rescue Plan Act funds which the Legislative Council will distribute in conjunction with the Department of Human Services and the Department of Finance and Administration.

The Sustainability Plan Application was emailed to hospitals July 30 with instructions on how to apply for the funds, according to HMH CEO Debra Wright. The application was due July 31, Wright told the hospital board August 22.

CFO Bill Craig submitted the sustainability plan. Howard Memorial’s Executive Team reviewed the options for application listed in Track One and Track Two and determined that Track Two initiatives “would be used for HMH. Two initiatives were selected,” Wright said.

Background information about the hospital, supporting data and information to complete the application process were in the sustainability plan which HMH submitted.

“This was a major undertaking that had to be done in a short period of time in order to submit by the deadline,” Wright said. “I appreciate Bill and everyone else on the HMH team who collected information to make this application a reality.”

Because of the amount of funding available, “This is the largest grant application opportunity HMH has had to date in our current location,” Wright told the board.

The hospital was told that DHS “would be contacting us us to schedule a call to discuss results of the review.”

In other reports at the meeting, Wright said that an insurance adjustor inspected the roofs of the hospital and the three office buildings on the campus. “He determined that all three of the shingled roofs were heavily damaged from hail and must be replaced.”

Wright said that for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic began, she was able to host the annual auxiliary luncheon in her home “to honor our ‘Pink Ladies’ and their director for their service to HMH. Their volunteer time is very much appreciated.”

Auxiliary members “assist with escorting patients to their destination within the hospital, provide coverage for the Pink Avenue Gift Shop, write get-well cards for patients on the patient care unit, and assist with fund-raising activities such as the recent scrub sales,” Wright said. 

They donate proceeds from fund-raisers to the hospital for the purchase of equipment.

The auxiliary welcomes new members, Wright said. 

Employment terms have been given to a CRNA who is possibly interested in providing anesthesia coverage at HMH, Wright told the board. “A third provider is needed since the current providers would like to reduce the amount of coverage they are providing A service agreement was initiated with a recruitment company to fill this position.”

The second year of a grant which CHI St. Vincent in Hot Springs received to provide prenatal and postpartum care in southwest Arkansas has moved from planning to implementation. Wright said St. Vincent plans to lease the Speciality Clinic the first third Tuesdays of each month with a tentative start date of Oct. 12.

Wright said that Arkansas has the highest maternal mortality of all the states, according to statistics from the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement. Those statistics “more than justify the need for these services, especially in rural areas, and I am so pleased they plan to offer these services in Nashville.

CFO Craig presented the financial report for July. HMH had 27.9 days in accounts receivable. The target is less than 45 days.

The hospital had 117.2 days cash on hand. The target is to have more than 145 days.

For July, HMH reported a loss of about $120,300.

Collectible revenue from patient services was about 464,000 short of budget. Emergency Department visits were 108 sort of budget at 742.

Surgery cases were short of budget at 85 compared to 92.

Positive numbers from the report included the average daily census at 6.9 compared to the budget number of 6.2.

Swing bed volume is 32.1 percent of July’s inpatient days, exceeding the goal of 30 percent.

Operating costs for the month were nearly $47,500 below budget.

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