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Section A: General News


Hospital works to address growing need for doctors




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Wilson County News
April 4, 2012 | 1,330 views | Post a comment

According to Karl Hittle of Endeavor Healthcare -- the company that manages the Connally Memorial Medical Center in Floresville -- Wilson County’s population is projected to be home to 53,139 residents by the year 2015. He told the Wilson Memorial Hospital District board at its March 29 meeting that this is why the hospital needs to keep up with the population growth by broadening its services offered and by recruiting more doctors.

According to a recent analysis of physician supply and demand, the county currently has no doctors who specialize in pediatrics, hematology and oncology, dermatology, neurology, or pulmonary medicine. As for primary care doctors, the county only had 11 in 2011, which is far less than the recommended 28.6.

Because not all of the doctors in Wilson County practice there full time, the adjusted supply of doctors across all specialties is just 16.76. Based on the recommended ratio of 180 physicians per 100,000 residents, the county is short 34.91 doctors.

In response to the community’s growing need, the board is negotiating two physician-recruitment agreements. The first is related to the hospital contracting a primary care physician who also would assist Dr. Daryl Currier in his Floresville, La Vernia, and Stockdale offices. The board voted unanimously for the hospital to pay $15,750 per month for this physician to provide primary care services in a hospital-based clinic.

The board approved a second agreement related to providing financial assistance and incremental expenses to a new doctor who would relocate to Floresville and establish a new practice. Financial assistance in the first year would not exceed $145,000.

Hospital spokesman Katie Etringer said after the meeting that the board has not made a final decision about the actual candidates who would fill these new positions.

Also during the meeting, the board approved a more- aggressive collection strategy that would target patients who owe $500 or more and have a credit score of 650 or greater.

Hittle said it would cost the hospital approximately $8,000 to $9,000 to collect an outstanding $55,000 to $60,000.

“These are people who have the ability to pay, but are choosing not to,” said board member Keith Johanson.

Board President Ronnie Eckel said that patients deemed “indigent” are exempt from the collections process.

Eckel, Johanson, and fellow board members Tommy Soriero, Amy Clark, and Sue Coats voted in favor of the enhanced process, while Monica Flores voted to abstain.

In other business, Linda Shields of Endeavor presented the March financial and statistical report. According to the report, the hospital finished the month with a net income of $422,540, which is $99,747 ahead of the projected $322,793.

The net income accounts for $279,065 in property taxes and other subsidies, $149,848 in operating income, and a loss of $6,373 in “other income.”

In attendance: Board members Ronnie Eckel, Monica Flores, Sue Coats, Keith Johanson, Amy Clark, and Tommy Soriero, Chief Executive Officer Jerome Brooks, Karl Hittle and Curtis Rojas of Endeavor Healthcare, hospital spokesman Katie Etringer, Chief Nursing Officer Celeste Brizzee, surgical nurse Sue Tackitt, Chief of Staff Dr. Emily Frye, and administrative assistant Shirley Bienek.
 

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