Vital Signs for Cimarron Memorial Hospital, Nursing Home and its Rural Health Clinic

In this week's “Vital Signs”, Memorial Hospital CEO Rod Burrus has chosen to answer some frequently asked questions. Since the viability and reputation of CMH is so important, I have decided to place the column on the front page- C.F. David, Editor The Boise City News.

By Rod Burrus

Often I am asked whether our facility is going to make it in these tough times and I always respond in the affirmative. Indeed I had one member of the community tell me that these articles were very optimistic. (I gather this gentleman thought we should have already been closed) I do entertain many questions about our operations and am always happy to discuss issues relating to our facility. Your facility! Times are difficult but we have had worse. The position that we find ourselves in was not of our own doing. We inherited this situation and have to make the best of it. My best analogy is trying to dig our way out of a hole with a teaspoon. It is slow tedious work but we are making progress.

When I have the opportunity to speak to people, there are always several questions that keep coming up. I thought that it might be of benefit for me to rewrite some of the questions along with my responses in this forum. The intent is to inform you of our operations but please never hesitate to call me at 544-2501 ext. 210 if you would like more information.

Question 1. Why did Cimarron Memorial make payroll nine times in a row then fall out of sequence?

During the last two months of 2004 we had a number of payments that had to be caught up. Cimarron Memorial had, through the keying error of a previous employee, shorted an employee $20,000.00 and this amount had to be repaid in 2004 for tax purposes. Secondly, Cimarron Memorial had to obtain general & professional liability insurance, which costs us an initial down payment of $17,000.00 and finally, we had to play catch up on several of our suppliers that intended to be square with us prior to year end. Paying these bills drained our cash flow and pushed payroll off for a week. My best estimate is that it will take another month to regain our regular cycle of every other Friday payments.

Question 2. My tax money supports Cimarron Memorial, why can I not receive all of my health care services here?

One of the common misconceptions is that Cimarron Memorial is supported wholly or in part by your tax dollar. Unlike a hospital district, which levies taxes based on your property, Cimarron Memorial only receives the 2% sales tax which is funded primarily by our gas sales in Cimarron County. This information was provided to Cimarron Memorial by the Office of Rural Health out of OSU. Secondly, as it relates to services, Cimarron Memorial is working to add services so we may keep our health care dollar in Cimarron County; however, these services have to be added carefully as we do not want to expand beyond our capacity or means. Currently we are working to add another physician in the clinic, bring on a rotational cardiologist as well as provide endoscopic and surgical services. More info to come.

Question 3. What is your average census and how many emergency room visits do you have per month?

This is an excellent question! This question could also be rephrased in this manner, “What health care services would be lost if our facility were closed.” During the month of December we had 116 patient days. This is derived from taking three separate numbers. First we had 25 ‘ Medical' patients that stayed a total of 70 days, four ‘ Swingbed' patients that stayed a total of 45 days and finally, one ‘ Observation ' patient that stayed with us one day. These numbers combined determine how many patient days we had. December had the highest total of patient days that any one around here can remember. What is significant is the number of Emergency Room patients. During the same month we had 86 patients that came through our door. While 58.1% of these were “clinic type patients” ( patients that were not severe ), we had 27.9% that were true emergencies where driving an hour to receive care simply was not an option.

Question 4. What would be the economic impact to our community if Cimarron Memorial closed?

Currently Cimarron Memorial receives 72% of our money from Medicare & Medicaid payers. What this means is that we are a gateway for money to pour into our county from Federal & State sources. Businesses that are located here in Cimarron County circulate money that is already located in the community and have minimal impact on new money coming from out of the county. In sharp contrast, Cimarron Memorial receives a majority of our funds from out side of Oklahoma. This helps to stimulate the economy as each dollar is recirculated within the community, known as the money multiplier effect. It is estimated that every dollar tendered in a community will be spent again a total of seven times. The economic effect of removing $150,000.00 in payroll expenses means a total loss of over a million dollars to our community per month. Not to mention that if the facility were closed that we would lose 105 highly paid positions who spend their money, in part, in Cimarron County.

Question 5. I heard that Dr. Yoga is leaving, what is your plan for physician coverage?

Cimarron Memorial is saddened to receive Dr. Yoga's resignation as Chief of Staff and Primary Care Physician in our Rural Health Clinic. During the last half year I have come to admire and respect her professionalism, wit and candor. Dr. Yoga has received a wonderful offer to provide education to physician residents from Texas Tech University in Odessa, Texas. This position is quite a step up for her as she will be in the role not only of physician but of educator. Currently our administrative staff is evaluating offers from various physician recruitment firms as well as developing ties with the Oklahoma Office of Primary Care. I spoke with the Director of the Office of Primary Care. During the conversation he confirmed his commitment to helping Cimarron County in any manner possible. During the extended conversation, Mr. Brown said that our county had been designated as a Medically Underserved Area. This means that we may qualify for Federal & State Assistance in locating, recruiting and retaining a physician for a fraction of the usual cost. As Dr. Yoga starts to taper off her services to Cimarron County, we are pleased to announce that Dr. J.L. Wheeler has expressed interest in expanding his days of coverage. Dr. Wheeler has always been a rock in this community and I will be pleased to see him around our facilities more. Currently Dr. Wheeler has transitioned to Fridays in our clinic to provide more service to our community.

My sincerest hope is that these paragraphs might have answered some of the inquiries that you might have had. If you would like for me to expand on an issue, please call me at 580-544-2501 and I would be happy to expound. After all, I work for you!

Boise City News
P.O. Box 278
105 W. Main Street
Boise City, Oklahoma 73933-0278
Phone: 580 544-2222
Fax: 580 544-3281
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