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The Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center’s (HRRMC) Board of Directors had a brief but densely-packed meeting agenda on March 30, spanning financial reports from the first two months of 2021 and updates on vaccinations and new clinics. 

As of early March, nearly 73 percent (450 employees) of the staff had been vaccinated for COVID-19. HRRMC hosted two clinics in March, one for employees and one for the public, vaccinating more than 300 people throughout the month. They’re also developing a “strategic communications plan” to increase the number of vaccinated employees, as the vaccine is not currently mandatory for their staff.

“We are sensitive to employee’s wishes and exceptions (medical, religious, etc.),” Vice President Physicians, Mid-Level Providers, Clinics, and Behavioral Health Peter Edis wrote in his report. “But are also aiming to meet our goal of protecting HRRMC from any potential future outbreaks or related challenges is in as many ways as possible.” The hospital has also implemented COVID-19-specific vaccine badge stickers for those in the Infection Prevention department, allowing patients, visitors, and other employees to identify at a glance who has been vaccinated for COVID-19.

Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center

The medical center was under its projected inpatient days, total emergency room visits, and clinic and dialysis visits. However, HRRMC exceeded the projected number of surgeries. This is likely the result of pent-up demand from the delays and cancellations of surgeries during the height of the pandemic. The hospital saw $2,012,274 in inpatient revenues, compared to their budgeted amount of $2,221,355, due to major variances from budgeted expectations in the Intensive Care Unit, Rehab Services, Cardiopulmonary, and Adult and Pediatric inpatient departments.

On the other hand, Outpatient revenues were $14,704,346, over their budget expectation of $13,194,366. Major budget variances came from Surgical Services, Patient Supplies, Lab/ Pathology, Pharmacy, and Imaging Services. 

The hospital’s expenses were $340,311 over their budget for the month, owing to variances in a number of departments. HRRMC was 15.9 percent over budget for the month and 12.8 percent over budget for the year in purchased services, primarily due to new staffing in HR, Medical Records, Imagine, Neurology, the Intramuscular Clinic, and the Salida Health Center. Patient supplies and pharmaceuticals were over budget by 12 percent for the month due to variances in projected volumes for surgery and for the pharmacy. Department supplies were 27.2 percent over budget for the month as a result of volume variances in surgery, hearing aid in the ENT department, and COVID supplies for Emergency Management. Lastly, the hospital’s leases were over budget by 63.4 percent ($4,353) for the month, and 72.2 percent ($12,134) for the year, mainly due to the lease of the spine microscope in surgery. 

They also marked 53.8 days of operating capital in accounts receivable at the end of February, above the 50th percentile for Colorado Critical Access Hospitals (CAH) at 46.8 days. In January, they logged 54.2 days in accounts receivable and averaged around 59.5 days overall for 2020. Days of accounts receivable are a measure of the speed at which invoices are being paid by patients and third parties. The hospital currently has 269 total days of cash on hand, well above the Colorado CAH’s 50th percentile of 130 days. 

The Board had a number of capital purchases up for approval this month: an infant warmer for the Family Birth Center, a tissue processor for the laboratory, desktop computers, four rehab treatment tables for the Buena Vista Health Clinic’s (BHVC) Rehab Department, a Pilates reformer for the Physical Therapy Department, a video tower for scopes for the Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) clinic, and two urology cystoscopes. Of the purchases, only the video tower for the ENT clinic was not requested as part of the capital budget and will cost $32,890.22.  

As reported on December 16, 2020, in the Ark Valley Voice, broken pipes under the boiler at the hospital continue to be a serious issue. While there was no detailed update on the boiler system at the March 30, 2021 meeting, Tom Eve, Vice Chairman and member of the Facilities and Strategic Planning Committee, said there are plans to implement a redundant system with three steam boilers in case one goes out. The board also heard a number of updates on new construction across their clinic sites, including plans to explore a breezeway expansion at BVHC are in the works. The expansion will increase available waiting space and patient flow at the clinic,  which has experienced problems with physical distancing during the pandemic. 

“We had some problems with the [patient] flow, and we’re going to have to live with it for a while we decide what the best course of action to take,” said Eve. They’re also looking into some options regarding rearranging furniture and waiting until the end of the pandemic to see whether the construction of an expansion will be necessary. In his report, CEO Bob Morasko stated they are also preparing costs to present to facilities if that sufficient flow can’t be achieved.

The groundbreaking for the Solvista clinic has been moved to May 6, though Solvista staff did move into their new rental space at BVHC in March. Sanderling Renal Services (SRS) and HRRMC are now evaluating other potential locations, as SRS communicated that the costs of constructing a new dialysis-specific building and center on the HRRMC campus were “prohibitive.”

The dialysis center on the second floor of the hospital is still available, and April Asbury, Vice President of Patient Services, reported that the Patient Services Board is re-establishing transient dialysis services (for cases expected to be managed for fewer than 30 days or 13 treatments) for those patients who have received their COVID-19 vaccination. 

Rocky Mountain Eye Center is scheduled to start their practice in their new building on the HRRMC campus in April after their original opening in March was delayed by a problem with their internet computer service. 

Morasko also made a point of remembering the life of family nurse practitioner John Daugherty, who was killed in a car accident on his way to work on March 4. In his report, Edis wrote that HRRMC will be coordinating with team members at BVHC to establish a bench in his memory, as well as an acknowledgment of his work on the wall of the new building. 

The board’s next meeting will be 6:00 p.m. on April 27. Any members of the public wishing to comment should be registered on arrival, and each will be limited to three minutes.