Hospital commission buys nurse call system

Thursday, March 18, 2021
File photo

The Eureka Springs Hospital Commission is taking ownership of its nursing call system.

At the commission’s regular meeting Monday night, the commission heard from interim hospital CEO Angie Shaw about the system. Shaw said the call system is what the hospital uses in patient rooms.

“It’s the button they would call the nurse or the staff for any assistance,” Shaw said. “It also runs the code blue buttons we have in the ER and throughout the hospital.”

Chairman Tyson Burden said the commission has a contract with Chris Bell and the BCA Group who purchased the system in 2020 to keep it in-house when the commission took ownership of the hospital from Allegiance Health Management. The commission pays rent each month to use the system, Burden said.

“Just to get everything tied up, we thought it was probably best if we went ahead and purchased that system,” Burden said.

To take ownership of the system, Burden said, Bell is asking the commission to pay $24,150 as well as all due payments. The commission’s contract with Bell would “completely end with the purchase of this system,” Burden said. Burden said the system is worth around $40,000.

Burden said former management company Alliance Management Group established the commission’s relationship with the BCA Group.

“This would be the last item that we would have from the BCA Group that was brought on by Alliance and would further end our relationship with Alliance,” Burden said.

Commissioner Kent Turner asked if the system meets all the hospital’s requirements and Shaw said it does. Turner then asked if the commission needed to put the purchase out for bid.

“This is something we’ve already had and it’s completely installed,” Burden said. “It’s quite integrated in our system already.”

“Except you were renting it,” Turner said. “Guys, I think it’s perfectly legitimate. I just don’t want to get crossways with anybody. I don’t want somebody to say we needed to bid it.”

Commissioner Barbara Dicks said that the system was originally placed in the hospital by Allegiance and later hit by lightning.

“Alliance came to us and said that … a third party was going to buy it and then we would buy it back and somehow it got convoluted in that we ended up renting it,” Dicks said.

Commissioner Jean Reed moved to purchase the system and the commission unanimously agreed to do so. The commission then heard from Turner about the Medhost conversion. Turner suggested hiring a temporary employee to complete the conversion, saying it would cost more than $100,000 to hire a consultant to do the work. Turner said a temporary employee could complete the conversion remotely. Once the conversion is complete, Turner said, the hospital’s accounts payable and accounts receivable would be balanced.

“They haven’t been balanced since we started,” Turner said. “That all has to be reconciled. Until you get that reconciled … your patient records even stand a chance of being bad because they don’t balance with what we say should be in there.”

Turner said the temporary employee would work until the conversion is complete and wouldn’t receive any benefits. The commission agreed to the plan.

Also at the meeting, longtime commissioner Michael Merry announced he will be leaving the commission once the new CEO is selected., saying he feels “wonderful” about the state of the commission.

“I see a lot more talent here than I ever had on the commission before,” said Merry, who served on the commission for the past 15 years. “I’m just real pleased and real proud of everything we’re doing, but I have to move on after this long. It’s time.”

Burden thanked Merry for his years of service to the commission.

“I don’t know if people realize this, but it’s quite remarkable that Eureka Springs still has a critical access hospital,” Burden said. “Critical access hospitals are failing throughout the country and [Merry] has been on the commission … the past 15 years and has managed to make sure that we still have a hospital.”

The commission’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, April 19, at The Auditorium.

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