OCH Interim Financial Statement Shows Loss; Hospital Plans for New Fiscal Year

The most recent interim financial statements for OCH Regional Medical Center from October 2016 to July 2017, that were presented to the OCH Board of Trustees on August 22 and recently requested by the Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors, show a cumulative operational loss for the current 10 month period.

Although the hospital has experienced a gross patient revenue increase of $6.9 million (4.4%) from the prior FY 2016 period, deductions from revenue have increased by $9.1 million (8.7%). This increase in deductions has directly impacted OCH’s adjusted gross revenues, putting them at $57 million compared to the prior year’s $59.3 million. Factors affecting increased deductions include significant third party payor reduction of covered services. These reduction in payments have contributed to an increase in this year’s operating loss, as well as an increase in operating expenses of $2.3 million (3.8%). This results in a bottom line loss of $5.1 million. Of this bottom line loss, $4.4 million is for depreciation and amortization, which are non-cash expenses.

“The decrease in bottom line is an experience that many other hospitals are seeing throughout the state,” said OCH Administrator/CEO Richard Hilton. “Hospitals are being impacted at different levels. Several hospital CEOs have shared their financial performance with me, and the same story of gross revenues and deductions from revenue increasing while insurance reimbursement is decreasing is always the common theme.”

Insurance companies are shifting the financial burden to their policy holders and their dependents in the form of increased high deductibles of $5,000 to $7,500. These types of deductibles obviously often translate to increased bad debt and increase accounts receivable with longer payment terms.

“Some hospitals have already started to downsize their operations by eliminating non-profitable services, as well as reducing staffing positions as a way to reduce expenses immediately,” said Hilton. “As we finish out the last two months of this fiscal year, our staff will work together to look at ways to decrease cost. These actions will be discussed with the OCH Board of Trustees and the department directors of the hospital. When the bottom line is an issue at OCH, as it has been only a few times in our entire history, we work together to come up with the best solution—one that has the least impact on our patients, employees and community.”

OCH Receives Award from American Heart Association for Quality Stroke Care

OCH Regional Medical Center has received the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines®-Stroke Silver Quality Achievement Award. The award recognizes the hospital’s commitment and success ensuring that stroke patients receive the most appropriate treatment according to nationally recognized, research-based guidelines based on the latest scientific evidence.

These quality measures are designed to help hospital teams provide the most up-to-date, evidence-based guidelines with the goal of speeding recovery and reducing death and disability for stroke patients. They focus on appropriate use of guideline-based care for stroke patients, including aggressive use of medications such as clot-busting and anti-clotting drugs, blood thinners and cholesterol-reducing drugs, preventive action for deep vein thrombosis and smoking cessation counseling.

“A stroke patient loses 1.9 million neurons each minute stroke treatment is delayed. This recognition further demonstrates our commitment to delivering advanced stroke treatments to patients quickly and safely,” said Eddie Coats, OCH Critical Care Manager. “OCH continues to strive for excellence in the acute treatment of stroke patients. The recognition from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines-Stroke further reinforces our team’s hard work.”

OCH Regional Medical Center has also met specific scientific guidelines for a Level 3 Stroke Center designation, featuring a comprehensive system for rapid diagnosis and treatment of stroke patients admitted to the emergency department.

“The American Heart Association and American Stroke Association recognize OCH Regional Medical Center for its commitment to stroke care,” said Paul Heidenreich, M.D., M.S., national chairman of the Get With The Guidelines Steering Committee and Professor of Medicine at Stanford University. “Research has shown there are benefits to patients who are treated at hospitals that have adopted the Get With The Guidelines program.”

Donna Canady said she’s one of those patients who has benefited and continues to benefit from being treated at OCH. In August 2014, Canady was talking to a neighbor when she said her words weren’t making sense. That neighbor brought Canady to the OCH Emergency Room where she received immediate care for a stroke.

“Everyone was so kind and patient with me. They were emotionally supportive. Lori [OCH Speech Language Pathologist Lori Windle] came to my room to help me learn how to swallow so that I could eat again,” explained Canady.

After being discharged, Canady received outpatient physical therapy and occupational therapy at OCH Rehab Services to re-gain strength in her arms and legs to help her return to activities of daily living.

In addition to the inpatient care and outpatient rehabilitation, Canady has continued to participate in the OCH Stroke Support Group. Led by OCH Rehab Services Licensed Speech-Language Pathologists Lori Windle and Laurel Jones, the support group helps patients who have experienced communicative, cognitive or swallowing difficulties as a result of stroke.

“It’s hard for others to understand what you’re going through, but the support group meetings help because everyone who is there has been in that boat before either as a patient or a caregiver,” said Canady adding that she couldn’t have made it through the rehabilitation process without her husband, James.

According to the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, stroke is the No. 5 cause of death and a leading cause of adult disability in the United States. On average, someone in the U.S. suffers a stroke every 40 seconds, someone dies of a stroke every four minutes, and nearly 800,000 people suffer a new or recurrent stroke each year.

Important Hormones for Your Health

OK, today I want to talk about hormones – which ones are important and why. Hormones have just as much impact on your health as the three other big pieces of the puzzle – physical health, mental health and nutrition. Don’t believe me? Well, you will by the end of this, so keep reading! This will be a very broad overview and I haven’t included all hormones, just what I call the big hitters. In later columns, we’ll dive deeper into individual hormones.

Vitamin D
Vitamin D is technically a pro-hormone that we get mainly from being out in the sun. Other sources include cod liver oil, calcium-rich foods, egg yolk and supplementation. Almost everyone is deficient in Vitamin D. I take a Vitamin D. The biggest areas of benefit include significantly decreasing risk of cancer (by blocking progression of pre-cancerous cells) and lowering heart disease rates. It can also improve testosterone levels, calcium absorption, bone health, blood pressure control and lower autoimmune disease rates. It’s one of the first areas I recommend for a quick improved health intervention in most of my patients.

Your thyroid is important, and low levels of thyroid hormones can significantly impact health. Your thyroid regulates metabolism, energy and body temperature. When it’s healthy, it increases protein synthesis, lowers cholesterol, increases fat breakdown and improves cognition. When it’s low, there are over 200 symptoms you could have. The most significant include fatigue, depression, weight gain, dry skin, brittle nails, thin hair, brain ‘fog’, constipation and high cholesterol. Women, especially those ages 40-60, are more prone to low thyroid levels compared to men although we do see it in men as well.

Another common area impacting health is your adrenals (you have two of them – they rest just above your kidneys). When you are startled and have that ‘body shock’ feeling, that’s the adrenals releasing adrenaline. When there is longer term stress, the adrenals release cortisol. When stress continues and cortisol gets depleted, you move towards what we call adrenal fatigue. Unfortunately, due to our inherent culture of go-go-go, adrenal fatigue syndrome is very common. Also, it usually takes a long time (4-12 months) to resolve once addressed. Stress management is a key to reducing your risk for adrenal fatigue and improving your health. We’ll discuss stress management techniques in a later column.

Sex Hormones
Testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone are all considered sex hormones. The name is misleading as these hormones are definitely not just about sex. That’s not even how the word sex is meant here. Anyway, I could go on for many moons on this subject as I’m passionate about it but we’ll hit some highlights here. In general, women need estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. Men need testosterone and estrogen. People usually think of testosterone as only for men and estrogen as only for women but that’s not the case. Men and women need estrogen and testosterone to benefit their health but the levels needed are different. As an aside, sex hormone optimization is complex and you need a healthcare provider who specializes in this to address and manage it properly as there are risks to mismanagement. Testosterone helps your body with sex drive, erections (in men), muscle strength, mood, energy, bone strength, as well as decreasing heart disease, cholesterol and diabetes risks to name a few benefits. Estrogen and progesterone can affect mood, sex drive, breast growth (particularly in women), urinary tract infection risk, cholesterol, bone strength, cognition, Alzheimer’s risk, skin health and sleep…again, to name just a few areas. Progesterone, in particular, is good at helping with sleep.

For women, these sex hormones can be deficient before menopause, but definitely deficient after. Ten to fifteen years ago, there was concern for hormone replacement after menopause and several post-menopausal women abruptly stopped hormone replacement. We now know that likely put them in a higher health risk category than if they’d stayed on them. Also, since then, we’ve learned more and really see where there’s a benefit in maintaining these hormone levels with appropriate surveillance by a qualified healthcare provider.

For men, testosterone in particular got a bad rap 4-8 years ago with a concern for worsening heart disease risk, and historically there has been a concern for prostate cancer risk. We will address these individually at length in upcoming columns but the short of it is this: there does not appear to be an increased risk for prostate cancer with normal compared to low testosterone levels (the data actually shows an increase incidence in the low testosterone groups) and, in most patients, there’s an improvement in heart health and lowering of heart disease risk with normal testosterone levels compared to low (similar to above, the data points towards increased heart disease risk at low testosterone levels compared to normal).

I know I threw a lot at you here, but that’s a super-high bird’s eye look at the impact of hormones on health. Keeping hormone levels optimized naturally, or if needed through supplementation, improves your chance for more functional years and an improved quality of life!

Dr. Thomas is a board-certified physician who operates Complete Health Integrative Wellness Clinic and Thomas Urology Clinic in Starkville, Mississippi.

This column is for informational purposes only and is, under no circumstances, intended to constitute medical advice or to create or continue a physician-patient relationship. If you have a medical emergency, you should immediately seek care from your nearest emergency room, and if you have specific health questions, you should consult your own physician.


Four Big Areas That Affect Your Health

My dad had a triple bypass when I was a first-year medical student, or M1 as we call it.  I remember the months leading up to the day.  My father was (and still is) a big hunter and I remember us walking through the woods and he’d have to stop, as he said, ‘to catch his breath’.  Sometimes he’d even stop and act like there was something he wanted to look at or listen to there in the woods but we both knew he just couldn’t breathe and he had to stop.  He’s like me and every other Mississippi man – when it comes to our health, we’re going to rationalize away and be in denial eventually to the point of crisis.  As his shortness of breath got worse, he visited his family doc and a chest x-ray revealed fluid on his lungs which led to a visit to the cardiologist.  Turns out it was his heart.

Your heart is the pump for your body, bringing blood in and pushing blood out.  Ironically, my father worked as an electrician on pumps at a local paper mill!  Anyway, his pump wasn’t working and fluid was backing up.  I was in Jackson in medical school and getting most of these updates from my mom.  When she said he would need open heart surgery, I rushed over to Meridian to see him.  He was justifiably nervous and, interestingly, in that life crisis moment, as much as he loves hunting, he made me promise to sell all his guns to make sure my mother could pay the bills if he didn’t make it through surgery.

As they whisked him down the long, sterile hall towards the operating room, I settled into an uncomfortable chair, pulled out a highlighter and tried my darnedest to read Guyton and Hall’s Textbook of Medical Physiology and not think about my dad.  The surgery and recovery yielded a couple of hiccups but ultimately he rebounded and has done reasonably well since that scare in 2003 although his heart is still not in great shape and he takes a potpourri of medications now to adjust for that.  I look back and reflect on this life crisis for him.  He loves hunting just about as much as the rhinestone cowboy loved rhinestones (another family story for another day)!  In that moment, though, he was willing to give it all up to ensure the long term safety of his family.  It got me thinking.  Why does it take a crisis for us to flesh out and act on our highest priorities?  This question is difficult to answer so, just ponder it for your own life – are you stuck in the everyday or are you looking at and prioritizing for the big picture?

As it turns out, that crisis was a turning point for me as well.  It planted the seed of thinking what I could do for my family, present and future, to make sure I stay healthy to be there and provide for them.  The answer is one word: prevention.  My grandfather (my dad’s dad) died of a massive heart attack in his early 50’s.  My father had open heart surgery at age 53.  I knew the statistics.  Genetically, I was at increased risk simply from the cards I was dealt.  This, as we call it in the South, come to Jesus moment for my father turned out to have the same effect on me.  I was starting to learn more about medicine and I picked up on other factors – like that my dad was diagnosed with diabetes eight years prior.  How he then acquired what we call metabolic syndrome.  How all of this was a predictable unfolding revelation leading up to his open heart surgery.  I realize now that while sitting in that hospital with my yellow highlighter, waiting (and praying) for him to get out of surgery, I made a vow to myself to learn more about prevention.  I didn’t want to get to the point my father or grandfather was in their 50’s.

Through years of study, I’ve found four big areas that impact your health and wellness.  Let me say this as an aside – it’s not just one thing.  Yes, diet is important but it’s not the only thing.  Yes, sleep is important but it’s not this only thing.  And exercise and supplements and so on.  Your body is beautifully complicated and anyone selling a one-size-fits-all or do-this-one-thing approach to health and wellness is someone to stay away from.  The four key areas of importance are physical, mental, nutritional and hormonal health.  Each area has several subcategories.  To name a few, physical health includes exercise and sleep.  Mental health includes areas like stress management, time management, self-confidence, and mind-body medicine.  Healthy eating and supplements fall under nutrition.  And there are several hormones that make a big difference in your health.

I started my own journey with consistent exercise.  I was able to maintain it over time because it flat out made me feel better and I had more energy.  What was your starting point to better health and wellness?  What will it be starting this week?  This weekly column will address key topics within those four health and wellness categories to move you towards a better lifestyle.  It is not a door.  It’s a road.  I’m passionate about the journey!  Will you walk the road with me?!

Dr. Thomas is a board-certified physician who operates Complete Health Integrative Wellness Clinic and Thomas Urology Clinic in Starkville, Mississippi.

This newspaper column is for informational purposes only and is, under no circumstances, intended to constitute medical advice or to create or continue a physician-patient relationship.  If you have a medical emergency, you should immediately seek care from your nearest emergency room, and if you have specific health questions, you should consult your own physician.

MHA Names OCH Administrator to Board of Governors

The Mississippi Hospital Association recently named Richard G. Hilton, Administrator/Chief Executive Officer of OCH Regional Medical Center, to serve on the Board of Governors as the Prairie Council Representative through June 2020.  This is Hilton’s second time to be appointed to the Board.

Hilton has a long tenure with OCH, serving as the Chief Financial Officer/Associate Administrator from March 1983 to February 2012, when he was named CEO/Administrator by the OCH Board of Trustees.

An active member of MHA, Hilton currently serves on several MHA committees including retirement oversite, political action, and Medicaid advisory committees.

Hilton has also been involved in the Prairie Hospital Council, MHA Quarter Century Executive Forum, and currently serves on the Board for the North Mississippi Trauma System as the treasurer and for Vizient Gulf States Region. In 2010, Governor Haley Barbour appointed Hilton to the Mississippi Hospital and Equipment Facility Authority (MHEFA) Board of Directors, representing the 3rd Supreme Court District.  Hilton is also a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE) and has been a member of the Hospital Financial Management Association and the American Hospital Association since 1983.

Serving on the board of directors of the Greater Starkville Partnership Development and as a member of the Starkville Rotary Club, Hilton is very active in his community.  His philanthropic efforts also extend beyond the United States. He and his wife, LaRue, are the founders of Family Life Missions Inc., a benevolent ministry operating children’s homes in Catacamas, Honduras, where he served as president/CEO and board chairman from 1992-2005.

Hilton holds a B.S. in business administration from Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas, and an M.S. in hospital and health administration from the University of Alabama in Birmingham. He and his wife have seven children and 13 grandchildren.


OCH Center for Breast Health & Imaging Adds Surgeon, Expands Access to Care


OCH Regional Medical Center is pleased to announce Charles “Chip” Wall, MD, FACS, to its medical staff and the OCH Center for Breast Health & Imaging.  Dr. Wall is a breast-health specialist and will provide increased access to care as he joins Travis Methvin, DO, and Dana Brooks, FNP-C. 

“My family and I are so excited to be coming home to Mississippi and joining the team at OCH,” said Dr. Wall.  “Being able to come to an established breast center that’s affiliated with a hospital that offers so much to its community is an incredible opportunity. I love getting to know my patients, and I look forward to continuing the excellent care Dr. Methvin, Dana and the entire staff provide to the Center’s patients.” 

Fellowship trained in surgical breast oncology, Dr. Wall most recently worked at the Alabama Breast Center in Montgomery. He received his bachelor of arts degree from the University of Mississippi and his medical degree from the University of Mississippi School of Medicine.  He completed his internship and surgical residency at Mercer University School of Medicine, where he became a member of Alpha Omega Alpha honorary medical society and received the Resident Achievement Award for both surgical resident of the year and overall resident of the year in 2006.  After practicing as a general surgeon in Hattiesburg for seven years, Dr. Wall moved to Dallas, Texas, to pursue fellowship training in surgical breast oncology at the University of Texas Southwestern, which he completed in 2015.

“We are really excited to be adding Dr. Wall to our practice,” said Dr. Methvin.  “Dr. Wall comes with high recommendations and is highly respected in his field. We look forward to being able to continue to care for the breast health needs of this region in a compassionate and timely manner.”

The Center for Breast Health & Imaging provides digital mammography, breast ultrasound, stereotactic breast biopsy, breast MRI, and other such breast health services.

Dr. Wall is certified by the American Board of Surgery and is a member of the American Society of Breast Surgeons, Sealy Surgical Society, and American College of Surgeons.  He also holds the honor of being a Fellow of American College of Surgeons.  He and his wife, Rachel, have three children.

For additional information or to make an appointment with Dr. Wall, call (662) 615-3800.



OCH Job Shadowing Day Offers Students a First-Hand Look at Careers in Healthcare

          OCH RegiDSCN3791onal Medical Center is excited to announce a career shadowing opportunity on Wednesday, July 26 from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Students who are at least 16 years-of-age and have completed the 10th grade level or higher are welcome to participate.

            This experience is observation-only and will include following a healthcare professional for the day and learning the responsibilities and rewards of a career in healthcare. Opportunities are available in clinical and non-clinical areas, with DSCN3786spots filled on a first-come, first-served basis. 

            Lunch will be provided for attendees.  Those interested in the shadowing program should contact the human resources department no later than Wednesday, July 19 by calling 662-615-2507 or 662-615-2511 Monday – Friday from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

OCH to Host American Lung Association’s Asthma Educator Institute

OCH Regional Medical Center will host the American Lung Association’s Asthma Educator Institute Thursday, July 20 and Friday, July 21 from 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. each day. This is a two-day preparatory course for those qualified to take the National Asthma Educator Certification Board (NAECB) examination.

Developed in January 2003, the Asthma Educator Institute was recently updated to reflect the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program Expert Panel Report 3: Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma. The curriculum covers the content outlined in the NAECB Candidate Handbook and includes case reviews, hands-on skills demonstration and practice. The course is delivered by asthma experts in the community, including Certified Asthma Educators (AE-C).

“This course is a top-notch program that we are so happy to bring to OCH and our community,” said OCH Respiratory Therapist and Certified Asthma Educator Eddie High. “The material covered over the two-day period will not only increase the participants’ knowledge about asthma, but it will also build confidence in asthma educators so that they can better care for their patients.”

This course will take place at OCH located at 400 Hospital Road in Starkville. The course is funded by the Mississippi State Department of Health Asthma Programs and is free to participants; however, registration is limited to 40 and is on a first-come, first-served basis. Registration deadline is Friday, July 14.  To register, visit action.lung.org/aei-starkville.  Attendees must participate in the full two day course to receive the continuing education hours.


OCH Receives Gold Standard of Excellence in Nursing Award

Hurst Ratings and Analytics has recognized the nursing staff at OCH Regional Medical Center with The Hurst Gold Standard of Nursing Award for achieving excellence in quality nursing, which significantly contributes to the hospital’s overall patient satisfaction rating. 

“Being recognized with The Hurst Gold Standard of Nursing Award is an honor for our nursing staff and hospital,” said Richard Hilton, Administrator/CEO of OCH. “Receiving this award demonstrates the level of dedication and commitment to quality patient care that our patients, their families, and the community can expect at our Medical Center.”DSCN4749

Nurse communication directly impacts outcomes and hospital patient satisfaction ratings. Hurst Ratings and Analytics reviews key quality indicators from HCAHPS surveys specific to hospital nursing services in the categories of nurse communication, staff responsiveness, medication communication, pain management, discharge information, and care transition. 

The Hurst Gold Standard of Nursing Award is given to hospital nursing staffs that achieve top tier weighted scores, significantly above the national average on these performance measures.

“Nurses make up the majority of hospital staff and are the primary providers of patient care in our hospital,” said OCH CNO Martha Fulcher, DNP, MSN, RNC.  “Around the clock, they not only attend to patients’ clinical needs, but they also provide emotional support for patients and their families. It is wonderful that nurses are being celebrated, and we are grateful to Hurst for honoring our staff with this special award.”

DSCN4756“As experienced nurses, we know the hard work and dedication it takes to achieve the highest standards of patient care,” said Marlene Hurst, RN MS CCRN ANP-C, founder of Hurst Review Services. “Our congratulations to the nursing staff, and we hope to see the great work continue.”

  For more information about Hurst Ratings and Analytics, visit www.hurstratings.com



OCH Receives an “A” for Patient Safety in Spring 2017


hss-grade-a-2016            The Leapfrog Group, a nonprofit organization committed to driving quality, safety, and transparency in the U.S. health care system, today released new Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grades, which assign A, B, C, D and F letter grades to hospitals nationwide. OCH Regional Medical Center was one of 823 hospitals nationwide and one of 13 in the state to receive an “A” for its commitment to reducing errors, infections, and accidents that can harm patients.

            “This ‘A’ rating from Leapfrog is a reflection of the hard work by our entire staff,” said OCH Administrator/CEO Richard Hilton. “Patient quality and safety is an on-going process, and we believe in continually monitoring performance in order to improve patient care and outcomes.  When benchmarked with larger Mississippi hospitals, OCH performs very well, and we are proud of the safe, quality care we provide to our patients every day.”

            “Hospitals that earn top marks nationally in the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade, ‘have achieved the highest safety standards in the country,” said Leah Binder, president and CEO of The Leapfrog Group. “That takes commitment from every member of the hospital staff, who all deserve thanks and congratulations when their hospitals achieve an ‘A’ Safety Grade.”

            Developed under the guidance of an Expert Panel, the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade uses 30 measures of publicly available hospital safety data to assign A, B, C, D and F grades to more than 2,600 U.S. hospitals twice per year. It is calculated by top patient safety experts, peer-reviewed, fully transparent and free to the public.


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