|Houston County Courier - Local News
Copyright 2017 - Polk County Publishing Company
Hospital CEO Says 'Things Are Working'
By Alton Porter
In his first official report to the Houston County Hospital District (HCHD) Board Directors as new chief executive officer of Timberlands Healthcare, Jeff Perry said his first priority is to become acquainted with as many people here as he can and get settled in his new position. "Right now, I just want to kind of initially tell you what my plan is," Perry said. "Right now, it's meeting as many faces as I can, internally at the hospital and externally. So, I will definitely call on all of you to help me identify key areas, key people I need to meet with because I'm going to keep meeting until I talk with everybody I can." "My first 60 to 90 days is just listening and learning. That's the key part – take care of some urgent issues, obviously. But, most of it is listening and learning, understanding what our key challenges are for the organization so that we can be sure that we're serving patients at the highest level." He added, "And an important part for all of us is continuing communication of that, as well. And so, you will be hearing from me quite often." Perry, who began in his new position on Feb. 13, replacing interim Timberlands administrator Robert Torres, was warmly received by the HCHD board members at the board's meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 21. Presenting some January statistical data to the directors, Perry said 57 people – about 10 above the 2016 monthly average – were admitted to the hospital and there were 819 Emergency Department visits by individuals during the month. The monthly average for Emergency Department visits is 816. He said there were 100 surgical procedures performed at the hospital, noting, Dr. (Clifton) O'Meara, an orthopedic surgeon who performed the first total hip replacement at Timberlands and most of the 100 procedures, had 60 additional cases over a 45- day period as a result of marketing. Surgical visits to the hospital each month average 79, Perry said. "Things are working. As we get communication from our providers and new services, that's going to do some great things – expand care." Perry said, "Rural Healthcare Clinic visits were 1,612, about 300 above our monthly average. Imaging studies were at 1,045, about 100 over our monthly average. And cardiopulmonary treatments and visits were at 2,300; that's also about 300 over the monthly (average). "You're seeing a good trend and many of these are over the monthly average. So, many of the areas are looking great." He said physical therapy treatments numbered 1,530, with a monthly average of 1,200, but 3,875 lab tests for the month were "just a little bit below our monthly average of 3,900." He noted, as of Friday, Feb. 17, Lab Services moved to a remodeled space in the hospital. Following Perry's presentation, Board Member Dr. John Stovall commented that 85-yearold Joanne Holcomb of Crockett, the recipient of the first total hip replacement surgery O'Meara performed at Timberlands, is someone he knows of. Stovall reported he has been told Holcomb "feels 10 years younger." "And she's the kind of person who's going to tell everybody," Stovall said. "So, (she was) a very good choice." Perry responded, "We're going to keep those stories coming, doc. We'd actually like to (reach out to) some of those patients and try to publicize those responses." Board President Deborah Blackwell told Perry and other executives of Timberlands Healthcare owner Little River Healthcare (LRH) present at the meeting she is impressed with the marketing that has been made on behalf of the hospital through radio, newspapers and other media. Jeff Madison, a LRH owner and chief executive officer, said company officials are in communication with an ear, nose and throat surgeon who is interested in coming to Crockett and joining the Timberlands staff, providing services three days a week. LRH and Timberlands staffers are looking forward to adding him to the surgical team real soon, Madison said. In response to a request from Stovall that LRH provide access to an oral surgeon through Timberlands, Madison said, "We don't have an oral surgeon even in our group of 180- plus providers. They're rare; there's not a lot of them. There's a great one that we're good friends with," but he's not a part of LRH. However, Madison said providing access to one through Timberlands is something LRH execs will consider. Madison added, LRH is continuing to reach out to community practices within a 45-mile radius of Crockett, explaining, "We have a couple of non-disclosure agreements that we're under contract with outreach clinics about joining the company and actually becoming part of Timberlands." Dr. James Callas, LRH chief medical officer and a member of the Texas Brain and Spine Institute, said, the LRH has signed contracts with two doctors – Rudy P. Briner and L. Gerard Toussaint – who will start "supplying neurology services here, hopefully within the next six weeks." They are expected to provide their services on a part-time basis. In addition, Callas said the company is looking into attracting a pain specialist to provide services through Timberlands. Matthew T. Maxfield, LRH chief operating officer and a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives, said LRH executives will meet at corporate headquarters in Round Rock in the next couple of weeks to discuss plans and develop an action plan for going forward in 2017 and 2018.