Interim CEO says staff impressive at troubled Unicoi Co. hospital

Brad Hicks • Jul 16, 2012 at 9:55 PM

Unicoi County Memorial Hospital’s interim consultant Chief Executive Officer Jete Edmisson said he is excited by the opportunities at the hospital and is impressed with the quality of its staff.

“I think it’s been an outstanding seven days with being able to meet a tremendously dedicated group of people,” Edmisson said following Monday’s regular meeting of the UCMH Board of Control.

At a July 9 called meeting, after the board unanimously voted to accept former UCMH CEO Jim Pate’s resignation, it voted to contract with Spectrum Health Partners to conduct a review of the hospital’s overall operations. The hiring of a consulting firm was a stipulation of a May agreement between the hospital and the town of Erwin, which saw the town loan the hospital $800,000, and the review is expected to take six to eight weeks to complete.

Last week, the board also voted to hire Edmisson to serve as the hospital’s interim consultant CEO for a 30-day period. Edmisson said Monday that he is impressed by the depth of knowledge at the hospital and said an “outstanding” foundation is in place. One of the aims of Spectrum is to be able to have the quality of the hospital’s staff reflect onto its finances, Edmisson said.

“I truly feel like we’ve got the foundation for an exceptional institution,” he said.

Two other representatives with Spectrum Health Partners are already onsite at UCMH, working with hospital Chief Financial Officer Toni Buchanan to look at the hospital’s finances with “a different set of eyes,” Edmisson said.

“You do the same analysis as if you were going to do a bond issue,” he said. “How does this relate to this, does it relate to this, and how does it compare to national norms?”

These representatives are also examining patients’ financials to see what opportunities may exist with regard to third-party payers and ensure that the hospital is up-to-date with bill coding requirements.

“Medicare may require a coding update that was implemented, but Medicaid might require something that’s two years old. Blue Cross might require something that’s three years old, so sometimes that can make your system very complicated, and they’ll be trying to look at those,” Edmisson said.

Edmisson said the board of control and hospital officials have gotten positive feedback about Spectrum’s presence and that its representatives are taking a different approach when looking at the hospital. On Friday, a conference call between Spectrum and local officials will take place to provide an update on where things stand with the firm’s review at this point.

During the board of control’s meeting, the board elected new officers. Glenn Tilson was elected chairman of the board, Roland Bailey was elected vice-chairman and Russell Brackins was elected secretary/treasurer.

The topic of an administrator for the long-term care area of UCMH was also discussed at Monday’s meeting. Edmisson said Pate served in this role and had a license to do so in the state.

Edmisson said work is now being done to find a licensed interim administrator, as no one within the organization possesses the necessary license.

“So to be able to meet the state requirements, we’re looking to bring somebody in here on an interim basis so that when you all make a determination for the final CEO, that person may have their license and won’t be trying to have two positions,” Edmisson said. “We’re working on that, and our goal is to have somebody by Thursday.”

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