Hospital commission allows CFO to transfer funds

Thursday, May 20, 2021
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When it comes to new chief financial officer Bill Couch, the Eureka Springs Hospital Commission is taking care of business.

The commission voted Monday night to allow Couch to transfer funds between accounts, also agreeing to name Couch one of the hospital’s check signers. Commissioner Barbara Dicks said the commission must present the approved minutes to the bank so Couch can officially sign checks for the hospital.

The commission then voted to name commissioner April Griffith secretary and chairman Tyson Burden asked if that meant Griffith should be a check signer. Commissioner Leva Murphy said the secretary should sign checks. Dicks moved to make Griffith a check signer and to remove former commissioner Jean Reed from the list of check signers. The commission unanimously approved the motion.

In other business, the commission addressed the status of the “Brown House,” a building the hospital purchased in 2018. It has sat empty since the purchase, and the commission previously discussed demolishing it to create more parking space. Dicks moved to look into the demolition of the house.

Commissioner Kent Turner said he wasn’t so sure about that. Turner said he’s done quite a bit of research since the commission’s May 1 workshop when the issue was first discussed. He learned that the commission doesn’t have the authority to demolish the house, Turner said.

“The city of Eureka Springs has to make that decision,” Turner said. “It’s not our decision to make.”

Turner added that the commission paid $140,000 for the house three years ago, saying at least $100,000 of that value is tied to the building itself.

“So if we demolish that building, we’re destroying value for that property considerably,” Turner said. “That building doesn’t look in that bad of condition. I think we need to be careful before we just decide to demolish that.”

Turner said the commission could still create more parking on the property while maintaining the building and Burden said the commission should discuss the issue more at its next workshop.

“I think we need to talk to the city because I don’t know what the process of getting a building destroyed on city property is, so that may be something more than any one of us are willing to go through,” Turner said.

Turner said he’d recommend evaluating the purpose of the building before destroying it, and the commission agreed to continue discussion at a later date.

The commission then voted unanimously against Dicks’ motion to look into the demolition of the house.

Hospital CEO Angie Shaw gave an update on everything happening at the facility, saying Lorissa Nance was promoted to chief nursing officer, Amber Leibee to case manager and Darla Methvin has stepped into the ER director role.

The hospital recently welcomed respiratory therapist Greg Barios, Shaw said.

“He has been educating staff on the use of vents and working closely with staff to assess further needs,” Shaw said.

Shaw said the ER census is trending up, with a year-to-date increase of 44 percent in April.

“April’s census was the highest on record since before 2012,” Shaw said. “ER admit rates are averaging 10 percent for the year.”

Shaw said the hospital has given more than 2,000 COVID-19 vaccines and is working with the Eureka Springs School District to vaccinate students 12 and older.

At the end of the meeting, Burden addressed his presentation at the Eureka Springs City Council’s May 10 meeting.

Burden said he wanted to clarify that hospital employees are city employees but they are not paid by the city.

“The funding for the hospital payroll comes entirely from hospital funds,” Burden said.

When he told the council that the commission inherited a “disorganized and difficult to use” financial accounting system, Burden said, he was being transparent.

“Just in my frankness … during that presentation, I think some folks may have took that as quite a bleak picture,” Burden said. “But I just wanted to point out that we have many, many, many opportunities within the hospital. The deficits we’re experiencing right now, I think, will easily be made up even by the end of the year and we will be on very good footing.”

The commission’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, June 21, at The Auditorium.

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