Hospital reinstates restrictions due to active COVID-19 cases

By Becky Brewster

The Culberson County Hospital District met in Regular Session on September 8, 2021. Andy Freeman and Jared Chanski of Preferred Management Corporation (PMC) discussed issues encountered by rural hospitals, and specifically Culberson Hospital, due to the impact of COVID-19, the increased local participation in the Medicare Advantage Program, and legislative changes as well as other factors that have caused a drain on the financial resources of PMC. They noted that federal funds through programs such as the CARES Act have provided a cushion, but without the infusion of federal funds, there could be a shortfall in the next year. PMC requested that the Board consider amending the contract to use the Medical Inflator Factor rather than the Consumer Price Index to determine the increases that the District pays PMC each year to more accurately reflect the trends in the medical industry. The Board will consider the contract amendment at the next meeting.

The Board conducted a budget hearing on the proposed FY 2021-2022 budgets. After making a few changes recommended during the hearing, the Board adopted the FY 2021-2022 budgets. The Board also adopted the 2021 tax rate of $.127301/$100 valuation with $0.108642 for Maintenance and Operation and $0.018659 for debt service. The Board chose not to increase the tax rate for 2021.

Judy Blazek, Project Manager, facilitated a work session for the update of the District’s Capital Improvement Plan. A summary of items still pending include the Phase IA and Phase II landscaping, helipad, EMS facility, gate for the mechanical yard, the screen by dietary, fencing of the property on the south and east sides, sidewalks on the north and west sides and possible upgrades to the old clinic building. The initial priorities include the helipad, the EMS facility and the Phase IA landscaping, noting that a site survey and civil engineering work are necessary to proceed with these projects.

The Board then accepted a proposal from Dunaway for civil engineering and surveying services. Dunaway proposed a Master Services Agreement for the implementation of the priority capital improvements projects.

Hospital Administrator Rick Gray briefed the Board on Culberson Hospital’s response to COVID-19, reporting that there are eight active cases in Culberson County. Following OSHA guidelines, the hospital is again limiting patients to one visitor while COVID-19 is on the upswing. Gray noted that the Hospital and Clinic can only provide COVID-19 testing to persons with symptoms, noting that the PCR testing is backordered and there is a limited supply of tests. Gray also praised the efforts of the trauma team and hospital staff that recently handled a multiple-victim wreck which resulted in two child fatalities.

In other business, the Culberson County Hospital District:

Approved the consent agenda.

Received the PMC audit reports for 2019 and 2020.

Approved upgrades to the recently purchased rescue vehicle.

Postponed consideration of the purchase of an ATV/trailer