A recently-released report by the Louisville-based Kentucky Hospital Association (KHA) shows The Medical Center at Scottsville, in addition to being a key medical services provider in the county, is also a shot in the arm for the local economy.
The KHA's Kentucky Hospitals' Economic Importance to Their Communities report studied economic impact of local hospitals on their communities for 2009, the most recent year for which the data has been compiled. The study also noted the nonprofit hospital's major impact in another area vital to people: The care it provided for patients who were unable to pay for it.
Treating uninsured patients whose annual income was below the federal poverty level resulted in an unreimbursed cost of $926,000 to the hospital in 2009. These patients were never billed, according to the report. This doesn't include bad debt, or full costs, beyond government-set reimbursement levels, of caring for Medicare and Medicaid patients. Under state law, all patients seeking treatment at hospitals must be treated, regardless of ability to pay.
The KHA reports that for 2009, The Medical Center at Scottsville paid its then 207-person workforce almost $8.1 million in compensation. This, added with purchases of local materials and services, meant the 25-bed hospital spent $12.7 million for the year. This, the report states, had a substantial ripple effect on the local economy.
"We have close to 300 employees now," said Medical Center at Scottsville Administrator Eric Hagan. "Of those, 65 percent are from Allen County. They pay local taxes; they live here, and go grocery shopping here. And all the services we can get locally, they try to."
Hagan noted that many materials for the hospital's new addition, to be detailed next week, had come from local businesses like Johnson Lumber Company and The Decorating Centre.
For 2009, the KHA report puts the hospital's service level at 722 patients were treated on an inpatient basis, from a total of 5,586 in-hospital days. A total of 8,944 patients sought emergency room care. Outpatient visits totaled 20,493.
In accomplishing this, from fuel to food, the KHA estimates that The Medical Center's employees spent $3.6 million to buy local goods and services for the year. The hospital was responsible for $4.6 million in purchases of local goods and services, the report states.
The hospital paid the City of Scottsville $121,229 in occupational taxes, and $80,820 to the County of Allen. The KHA report links The Medical Center at Scottsville employee compensation and sales taxes to $678,885 in state income and sales tax collected. The hospital paid $419,722 in state provider taxes.
The report argues against cuts in Medicare and Medicaid, noting that a 10 percent cut would reduce the hospital's employee compensation by a combined $808,000. This, KHA projects, would result in lost jobs or decreased compensation. In either case, the report states, the ripple effect could go the other direction, reducing state and local government revenue through withholding and occupational taxes by $159,237. The study projects a loss of $3.5 million in local and regional sales for goods and services, and $1.1 million annually in related worker compensation around the region.
Statewide, in terms of numbers of jobs, hospitals rank fifth among all employers, but were fourth highest among wages and salaries paid. Average pay for hospital employees is 12 percent higher than that of private-sector employees.
Community leaders formally dedicated the completion of an expansion project at The Medical Center in Scottsville that includes additional clinic space and a permanent MRI system.
The $2.3 million project was nine months in the making, and hospital officials touted the potential benefits for patients and physicians during Wednesday’s ceremony.
The 5,700-square-foot expansion includes new space for the hospital’s Physician Specialty Clinics, where specialists from Bowling Green will see patients on designated days and times each week.
Scott, Murphy and Daniel constructed the expansion project and Ken Lashley served as the architect.
Eric Hagan, vice president of The Medical Center, said that relocating Physician Specialty Clinics from the Scottsville Medical Plaza to the hospital will be more convenient for patients who will not have to do as much traveling to receive specialized care from cardiologists, orthopedists, neurologists and other doctors.
“I think our patients will not have to get up and get around as much and then sit around and wait as much,” Hagan said.
Specialists who will work in the new part of the hospital will benefit from having building space dedicated exclusively to them as well, Hagan said.
Previously, Physician Specialty Clinics shared a facility with the Scottsville Rural Health Clinic.
Hagan said the rural clinic, which is staffed by three physicians and two nurse practitioners and sees an average of 120 patients daily, will have additional work space and patients there may potentially see reduced wait times.
“As the community grows, we continue to try to meet the community’s needs here,” Hagan said.
In addition to the new clinic space, the hospital welcomed the arrival of a new MRI system, the first permanent MRI machine at the hospital.
The new MRI suite will replace a mobile MRI service that visited the hospital once a week.
The permanent MRI was purchased by the hospital from Toshiba America Medical Systems.
Marty Robinson with Toshiba said the hospital’s MRI system represents the latest in imaging technology, noting that the patient table supports 440 pounds and the imaging system’s engine is quieter than other MRI machines.
As with the new clinic space, patient convenience was highlighted as a benefit of the hospital’s new permanent MRI suite.
Pamela Williams, a registered respiratory therapist at the Scottsville hospital, said her mother was one of the first patients to undergo an MRI in the new addition.
A Scottsville resident, Williams’ mother would have previously had to travel out of town or wait for the mobile MRI service to come to Scottsville for her examination.
“It is a huge convenience for our family members and patients to have this here,” Williams said. “A lot of folks have to take a taxi or get a day’s transportation just to go to Bowling Green for this.”
Chris Robison, chair of the Scottsville-Allen County Chamber of Commerce, said the community stands to benefit economically from the hospital’s expansion.
The Medical Center employs more than 200 people in Allen County, and accounts for $8.1 million a year in wages, which represents 6 percent of wages in the county.
Of that total, $3.5 million is spent in the county and about $200,000 is paid to local government coffers in occupational taxes.
“That makes a world of difference to members of the chamber and the overall quality of life here,” Robison said.
Ava Butler wasn’t feeling well.
The 3-year-old Alvaton girl had a runny nose and a sore throat. Her mother, Renee Butler, decided to take her to the Scottsville Rural Health Clinic. The toddler sat quietly in her mother’s lap as she talked about one of the reasons she travels there for medical care.
“Dr. (Grover) Dils is a family friend. My mom used to be his nurse. He’s a great doctor,” said Butler of the clinic’s medical director. “I think he’s one of the best. He’s genuine. I feel confident with what he says.”
Butler is one of many people who visit the Scottsville Rural Health Clinic, which along with Fountain Run Rural Health Clinic, is offered by The Medical Center at Scottsville.
“We see an average of 115 patients a day. We see a range of everything, from pediatrics to geriatrics – well-baby checkups, chronic disease, high blood pressure, diabetes management,” said clinic manager Michelle Willoughby. “We act as like a mini ER sometimes because we can do stitches.”
Because doctors see so many different ailments, they usually need to know what they can handle and what they can’t.
“You have to have broader skills and know when to send them out and refer them,” said Dils, whose specialty is internal medicine.
The Scottsville clinic has the added convenience of being in the Scottsville Medical Plaza next to The Medical Center at Scottsville. Patients can be sent there for additional testing or to be admitted if needed.
“Usually rural clinics are (located) way out there. We can do a lot of tests at the hospital where they don’t have to be sent out of town,” Willoughby said. “We’re able to get them with specialists locally.”
Having treatment options nearby is a comfort for the patients, clinic administrator Eric Hagan said.
“It’s a convenience-driven decision made by consumers,” Hagan said. “I think health care is a part of that.”
The clinic is staffed with five providers who rotate throughout the week and a nurse practitioner. The building that houses it has had various medical uses over the years and became the rural health clinic four years ago.
“With a growing number of patients, there was a greater need to open a rural health clinic,” Willoughby said.
“Our goal is to expand health care coverage to rural areas,” he said. “We see a lot of low-income or indigent individuals who wouldn’t be able to seek services elsewhere.”
While there are some who have insurance or pay out of pocket for services, many are Medicaid or Medicare patients. Kentucky Homeplace patient assistance program helps the clinic get medicine for patients in need. Costs sometimes hinder patients from being able to take good care of themselves, whether it’s going to seek help in the first place or eating healthier foods.
“A lot can’t afford the gas money,” Dils said. “We put people on diets, but they can’t afford it. Some of the elderly can barely afford medicine.”
Despite the challenges of working in a rural clinic, the staff works hard to help people.
“We enjoy managing a lot of it,” Dils said.
The Scottsville Rural Health Clinic is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays. Doctors take after-hours calls.
Jackie Wofford’s motto is a quote attributed to late author Erma Bombeck: “Seize the moment. Just remember all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart.”
When a bout with breast cancer forced her to choose between teaching and nursing, two professions she loved, she went with the one that was more of a calling.
“This fulfilled me. I always liked working with patients,” she said of her career as a nurse. “I felt like that was what God was saying. I feel like I make a difference.”
Wofford has been a registered nurse in The Medical Center at Scottsville’s emergency room for a little more than two years. She does triage, meaning that she sorts patients based on medical need and treats them.
“In a small ER like this, you see everything. Not everything is an emergency, but it’s important to the people who come here,” she said. “Allen County has a lot of heart attacks. We also see pain, car wrecks and trauma.”
Although she had always wanted to be a nurse, Wofford said she didn’t take a direct route there. When she was 22, she became an emergency medical technician and then a paramedic. She was one of the first female paramedics in the region. She later earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from McKendree University and a master’s degree from Spalding University, both in Louisville. As a student, she also worked and raised a family.
“I worked in Louisville for several years,” she said. “I worked in long-term care mostly. I also worked for a psychiatrist.”
For more than a year, she taught in the associate’s degree nursing program at Western Kentucky University’s South and Glasgow campuses and worked at The Medical Center at Scottsville at the same time. She had worked at the hospital years ago when it was called the Allen County War Memorial Hospital.
“We did everything there,” she said of the old hospital. “Everyone wore a cap. We did labor and delivery. We mixed medicine.”
Doctors and nurses seemed to be on different levels then, but now things seem different, Wofford said.
“It’s much more of a team concept,” she said. “We’re more partners in care. It’s a really good trend.”
Her battle with breast cancer last year made her realize she couldn’t keep up the pace of nursing and teaching. Wofford received radiation for six weeks while working both jobs.
“I never missed work. I never dread coming to work,” she said. “That’s a real blessing. I really love it here.”
Some of her favorite things about being a nurse are making people feel better, working with families and problem-solving when outcomes are going in a different direction than the wishes of the medical staff. She said she believes Commonwealth Health Corp., the parent company of The Medical Center at Scottsville, and the hospital itself are patient-oriented.
“They want good patient care, good outcomes and want to help you get there,” she said.
The Medical Center at Scottsville is opening a new health clinic today designed to treat a variety of illnesses and injuries and provide preventive health screenings.
The Fountain Run Rural Health Clinic is at 47 Akersville Road in Fountain Run and will operate from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.
The clinic will be staffed by Jason Shuffitt, a board-certified family nurse practitioner by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. He earned a master’s degree in nursing from Western Kentucky University and is pursuing a doctorate in nursing practice from the University of Arizona to be completed this fall.
— For appointments, call (270) 434-4857. Walk-ins also are accepted.
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