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KershawHealth going for more ‘Zero Harm’ awards

Posted: August 18, 2015 7:49 p.m.
Updated: August 19, 2015 1:00 a.m.

In September 2014, KershawHealth earned two “Zero Harm” awards from the S.C. Hospital Association and S.C. Medical Association during the two organizations’ Trustees, Administrators and Physicians Conference. The awards were for having zero infections during hip and knee surgeries for 18 months. It appears, according to KershawHealth Board of Trustees Vice Chair Dr. Tallulah Holmstrom, the hospital is poised to receive those awards again. Holmstrom made her report during the board’s Aug. 10 meeting.

“I think I gave you the headline last year, if you all remember -- ‘if you want a sound bite, this is it: Zero Harm,’” Holmstrom said. “I’m happy to tell you that KershawHealth has had no surgical site infections for knee replacements for 30 months, consecutively, and KershawHealth has had no surgical site infections for hip replacement for 30 months. So, again, there’s your headline: ‘Zero Harm, no infections, 30 months, knees and hips.’”

On another quality-related matter, Holmstrom acknowledged KershawHealth’s past struggles with patient satisfaction scores in the emergency department, but said there have been some temporary gains.

“Our most recent overall rating score was 85 percent, which is the highest it’s been in the last two years. There’s been a concerted effort on the emergency (department) bringing on the fast track, or the Express Care, component,” Holmstrom said.

She said the 85 percent satisfaction score places KershawHealth in the 52nd percentile nationally, according to Press Gainey, which conducts the surveys. Holmstrom said during the same period a year ago, the satisfaction score was 77 percent.

“The nice thing is, we’ve moved from 77 to 85 percent … and we feel that not only is patient satisfaction important, we feel that translates to an improved quality of care,” she said. “It’s been a focus for administration, it’s been a topic of discussion at the board level and I wanted to let you know we are now beginning to see some of the gains from our efforts.”

Also during the Aug. 10 meeting, KershawHealth CEO Terry Gunn reminded board members the Joint Commission planned on inspecting the hospital during the coming week. Hospital officials confirmed commission surveyors toured the facility Aug. 11-14.

Gunn also touched on employee “town hall meetings” as KershawHealth gets closer to closing its lease/purchase deal with Capella Healthcare of Franklin, Tenn. Plans are for Capella to lease KershawHealth’s real estate for 40 years and purchase its furniture, fixtures and equipment for $35 million. It will team with MUSC Health -- the patient care arm of the Medical University of South Carolina -- to operate KershawHealth.

Gunn said roughly 200 employees attended the meetings.

“(We had) excellent feedback, very open dialogue. We had a lot of compliments, afterwards, in terms of being able to openly share information, especially in particular about Capella deal -- where it stood. We talked very openly, very honestly about Karesh; we had a session especially for the Karesh Long Term Care unit employees,” Gunn said.

As part of the negotiations, Capella asked the board to retain ownership of the Karesh center.

“There were some questions we didn’t have answers to, especially related to some of the benefits, in particular on vacation time and PTO (paid time off),” Gunn said. “We took those back to Capella, (which) is very quickly now working on getting us the answers that we needed for those. It’s always good if you go into those situations to know what the answers are, but it’s also, when you don’t know, important to say you don’t know and go out and find the answer.”

Gunn said he wanted to hold such employee “town meetings” about once per quarter and hold other, smaller meetings such as benefits selections as needed.

Also, Holmstrom reported the board’s executive committee met Aug. 3 and received information regarding retiree and other personnel issues which need to be dealt with in anticipation of closing the Capella deal. The committee asked for administrators to gather more information for further review which will be shared with the full board in a future executive session and subsequent public vote.

At the beginning of the Aug. 10 meeting, Willard Polk spoke to the board during public comment as he has done several times this year. Polk said he had come to a point recently where he began feeling good about the pending Capella deal but new information has him concerned again. He said Capella’s recently announced sale by Chicago-based equity firm GTCR to Medical Properties Trust Inc. (MPT) of Birmingham, Ala., for $900 million begs the question of who will actually own and, ultimately, make healthcare decisions for Kershaw County.

“Quite frankly, $900 million is what Capella reportedly, according to their website has been infused with or has borrowed between 2005 and 2010,” Polk said. “To refresh your memory, in 2005 … GTCR invested two infusions of $200 million each into the company. Then, in 2010, there was an announcement by the company of a $500 million senior unsecured note. Doing the simple math, that totals up to $900 million. So, is this $900 million sale … simply a pass-through to satisfy the equity firm in Chicago?”

In addition, Polk -- a former senior agent with the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division who focused on insurance and other financial fraud -- said there was an additional $100 million asset-based revolving credit line established for Capella in 2010, bringing the total amount of direct investment or equity liabilities to $1 billion.

“When you look at Capella’s financials, some of this has been reported … particularly for the two years, 2013 (and) 2014, the combined losses at Capella was $56.9 million. Then when you start looking at their consolidated balance sheet, you recognize their liabilities for the year ending 2014 … is a tad over  $1 billion, versus assets of $865.7 million. That’s about a $131 million excess liabilities over their assets,” Polk said. “When you start running the numbers and doing simple math, it doesn’t look too bright.”

He went on to say, according to its own financial statements, when looking at Capella’s cash position for 2014, it stands at $28.7 million.

“So, this $900 million infusion indicates to me that, just reading the numbers, and reading the articles and what-not that Capella is, relatively speaking, not in much better shape than KershawHealth,” Polk said.

The board meets again Monday at 6 p.m. at the Health Resource Center on Battleship Road in Camden. All meetings are open to the public.

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