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Kenneth Pannell, North Arkansas Regional Medical Center CFO presented the financial report to the board of governors on Tuesday, Nov. 5.

Pannell said, “Admissions were the same for September as August. Deliveries were 7% down from prior year at 247 for September. Surgeries were up 8.9% with 428 in September verses 393 last year. Clinic visits are down 18.1% from last year with seven less clinics from prior year. Outpatient visits are up 5.9% from prior year at 9,870.”

“Healthcare trends are shifting from inpatient visits to outpatient visits. There is an increase in observation admissions,” Pannell said. “Emergency Department visits are up at 12,454 visits over the same time last year.”

Board member Bill Nay asked, “Are we still trying to cut back on hiring traveling nurses?”

Vice president of clinical services & CNO Sammie Cribbs said, “We did decrease it from 30 to 12. Now, we’ve increased it a little to help us cover flu season.”

Nay asked, “Do we have to match the salary a large city would pay a traveling nurse?”

Hospital president/CEO Vince Leist said, “We have to compare salaries, but we are competitive with the local markets.”

“The absence of providers has cut our clinic visits down, but our outpatient visits are still hanging in there,” Leist said. “We are recruiting doctors like crazy.”

Board member Brian Cash asked, “Is this the new norm, or are clinic visits down because we don’t have the doctors?”

Leist answered, “It is simply because we don’t have the doctors. We did hire three in the last month. We’ve opened a clinic in Eureka Springs and we’ve hired two residents who will be here in 18 months. We’ve interviewed three more and two were offered contracts. We are getting a lot of activity and are very optimistic.”

Leist also told the board of governors, “You know we had a rough year last year. One of the things we did in May to cut expenses was to suspend the contribution to the 401k plans for six months. We will restart the contributions on Nov. 15, just shy of six months. We’ve gotten things back in order so we can reinstate those contributions.”

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