In just a week’s time the laboratory confirmed positive COVID-19 tests generated through the lab at Texas Memorial Hospital grew by bout 50, hospital board members heard from Quality Director Amanda Turpin during its recent September meeting.

The increase in the number of positive cases throughout the area have continued to climb in recent weeks and the laboratory staff are growing busier by the day with a consistent flow of patients utilizing their drive-thru COVID swabbing service. Almost daily, the hospital staff perform anywhere from 30-40 nasal swabs.

On Tuesday the Texas County Health Department reported the county has confirmed 487 cases; at the time of the Sept. 22 meeting 268 cases had been recorded, a growth of 219 cases in two weeks.

The hospital lab reported that 25% to 33% of the COVID tests performed are showing positive results, the board heard.

Six to eight weeks ago, the percent of positive tests performed at TCMH was about five, said Turpin.

She added the hospital staff have been working diligently to maintain a steady surplus of COVID testing supplies for patients, especially with the uptick in positive cases in Texas County and the local area.

For the month of August, the hospital lab reported a decreased revenue of $109,328, but hospital leadership is hopeful that increased patient volumes in September will turn its financial performance around in addition to several other outpatient departments.

During her COVID update to the hospital board members, Turpin mentioned that Dr. Robin Trotman, infectious disease physician from CoxHealth in Springfield, spoke to the medical staff regarding the latest treatment recommendations for COVID patients, as well as “lessons learned” along the way.

Turpin said that although many of the guidelines for caring for COVID patients have not changed recently, the effectiveness of many of the recommended treatments has declined.

The TCMH medical staff were very appreciative of the time that they were able to spend learning from Trotman, she said. Trotman has treated hundreds of COVID patients this year and his knowledge is invaluable.

Turpin shared that the hospital’s task force has been working through several patient bed changes in order to provide the best care possible to COVID patients, while keeping regular patients and staff safe.

Turpin explained that many of the plans staff have made for improvements going forward will occur as the needed funding falls into place.

CEO Wes Murray reported that the hospital has received approval for nearly $300,000 in CARES Act COVID relief funds from Texas County.

Murray said many of the items requested have already been ordered and additional items are already in the works. Murray plans to meet with Texas County officials again later in the week.

“I am pleased to announce that Simmons Bank has awarded TCMH with a $2,500 grant to purchase pediatric hearing screening equipment,” Murray said. “The new equipment will give our providers the opportunity to perform the screenings in their clinics, something they have never been able to do before.”

He explained the TCMH Healthcare Foundation will cover the remaining $1,644 that is not covered by the grant funds.

Murray told hospital board members that although the Healthcare Foundation’s annual chili cook off will not take place this year, an online auction to benefit Hospice of Care is being developed to take its place.

“The chili cook off is the largest fundraising event for our hospice program each year,” Murray said. “We are excited for this new opportunity to raise money for hospice, even though it means everyone can’t be together in one place to do it.”

More information regarding the online auction event for Hospice of Care will be made available this month.

Linda Pamperien, chief financial officer, presented the financial report for the month of August.

“Overall revenues were down $1,089,338 from our budgeted expectations,” Pamperien said. “Inpatient volumes were down $104,953 and outpatient revenue was down $951,263.”

Bad debt for the month of August was $428,483.20.

Pamperien reported that no additional federal CARES Act funds that the hospital received were recorded on the ledger for the month.

TCMH ended the month of August with a negative bottom line of $149,736.27 and a year-to-date loss of $1,788,264.56.

Also resent at the meeting were Chief Nursing Officer Doretta Todd-Willis, Public Relations Director Rachel Davis, Dr. Linda Milholen and board members Dr. Jim Perry, Omanez Fockler, Jay Loveland and Allan Branstetter.

Board member Steve Pierce was not present at the meeting.

The next meeting of the TCMH board of trustees is set for noon Oct. 27. Due to current social distancing restrictions in place as a result of COVID-19, the meeting will take place via teleconference. To attend the meeting, call 417-967-1236.

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