Medical center nears 1,000 mark in surgical procedures


Staff Writer

The last Upper San Juan Health Services Board of Directors meeting of the year was mostly one of celebration.

“We have successfully completed almost 1,000 (surgical) procedures,” Pagosa Springs Medical Center CEO Brad Cochennet said at the start of the meeting.

“It is nice having a supportive board. That makes a difference in our daily lives,” surgeon David Shaeffer said, adding. “Before you know it, we’ll be celebrating the two-thousand procedures mark. We’re just gaining our momentum.”

After that, the discussion quickly turned to approving the amended 2012 budget and the 2013 proposed budget, and certification of the mill levy.

Medical center CFO Dennis Wilson explained that the reasons for changes to the proposed budget were approval of the women’s services and orthopedic services business plan and a recommendation by board chair Malcom Rodger and director Karl Irons that the budget be adjusted to allow for employee wage increases. This recommendation came after Rodger and Irons conducted employee interviews.

The finance committee had already approved the budget.

“There is no significant payback lurking in the shadows?” Rodger asked.

“Not that I know of,” Wilson responded, saying that PSMC currently has more medicare cash than it has had in a long time.

The budget and certification of mill levy was unanimously approved.

During his CEO report, Cochennet updated the board on discussions he’s had with Mercy Medical Center regarding potential collaborations.

Two opportunities that had been discussed, Cochennet said, were collaborations in trauma designation and cardiology. However, local staff has now been waiting over a year for anything to happen.

“They are very interested, but very slow,” Cochennet said.

In addition, Cochennet has also asked Mercy for surgery locums. Currently, Cochennet said that, when Shaeffer is gone, there is no one to take his place.

“Right now, the ball is in our court to send them a schedule,” Cochennet said.

Cochennet also informed the board that the tele-cardiology component of the Innovation grant, “has proven to be a new field for most.” Thus far, a tele-cardiology affiliate program has not been found.

Irons, head of the finance committee, went over the financials for the month as well as recommendations from the finance committee.

“November was a good month, for November,” Irons said. This November was up 18 percent from November of 2011.

Irons also said that the district is in a very good position to make the cash on hand requirement of 60 days for its bond covenant. This requirement was not met last year.

“What day in December do you know if there is adequate cash to meet the requirement?” Rodger asked.

“The last five to seven days,” Wilson answered.

Irons also said that the finance committee approached a bank for a line of credit. Previously, the USJHSD had a $300,000 line of credit but let it expire. Irons said that they would know more in January.

The meeting closed with the board approving a motion to let the Dr. Mary Medical Foundation approve requests for funds from either Cochennet or Wilson.