Quorum Court discusses hospital business, funds

Hospital business, better than expected revenue for the county and announcements about July’s Quorum Court meeting were the topics of discussion at the June regular meeting held Monday, June 8.
During the meeting the court listened as Drew Memorial Health System Chief Executive Officer Scott Barrilleaux reported hospital volume was inching back up, however, some areas are more depressed than others. One reason for this is because people are avoiding coming to the hospital, as a result, the patients being seen in the Emergency Room are sicker than normal, according to Barrilleaux. 
“The issue we are seeing with this is people avoiding coming to the hospital,” said Barrilleaux “When we do see them, especially in our ER, we are seeing really sick folks. I am encouraging people, and it would be great if everybody could encouraged all of our family, friends and loved ones, please do not put off your healthcare. Go in and get your checkups.”
Barrilleaux continued by informing the court that DMHS began elective procedures in May. Elective, according to Barrilleaux, does not mean the procedure is not necessary or that it is cosmetic, it means you can choose what date you want it done. Elective procedures include colonoscopies, mammograms, MRIs and other diagnostic procedures like these.
“The information what you get and what your provider gets based off those diagnostic studies can tell us a lot about what we need to do to keep you healthy,” he continued. “It is very important that we get these things done and hopefully people get more comfortable.”
Barrilleaux continued to report that the health system is at 23% total revenue and their total operating revenue is currently at $7 million dollars, down at least $1 million from the usual operating revenue pre-COVID-19 and is indicative of the lower volume. A higher volume of patients equals more revenue for the hospital. 
Barrilleaux also reported that the machines purchased with grant money to test for COVID-19 have been ordered and should be in by the fall or winter. The addition of the machines will enable DMHS to be the resource in the area to get tested. Once the machines are in, the hospital will be able to run 8 tests at once with a 45 minute to one hour turn around time. Barrilleaux continued stating that he hopes they will be able to test everyone once the machines are in but right now DMHS is only able to test those who have signs and symptoms.
The Court also discussed Judge Bynum Gibson’s request to have glass in areas of the courtroom where a six foot distance may not be possible, such as in front of the judge’s bench and the witness stand, among other places in the courtroom. The total cost would be about $1,800, according to Drew County Judge Robert Akin. 
“We are probably one of the only courthouses that don’t have (the glass) in it because I have been trying to figure out who is going to pay for it,” stated Akin. “I am a little frustrated that we have gotten, according to (Congressman Bruce) Westerman, we have gotten $1.3 billion. The counties have not seen a whole lot of money but the state has gotten that much money. This is something the state should participate in whether they want to or not and it should not be just on the counties because they have gotten so much federal money.  It is $1,800, I am sure the courthouse has the money to do that, it is just the thought that it should be paid for by some federal money.” 
During the meeting the Court also heard form County Treasurer Charlie Searcy about the state of the County’s finances. According to Searcy the General Fund, at the end of May is $60,000 better off than June of 2019, however, funding sources are light. This should be helped, according to Searcy, as District Court picks up and fines are paid. The one cent sales tax will begin again on Wednesday, July 1, and Drew County should start seeing that money in September. Searcy also reported that the county hasn’t seen a big drop in funds because they do not rely on the State very much. 
“We haven’t seen a really significant drop,” said Searcy, “ We are fortunate that a lot of our county general fund, we do not rely much on the State for that.”
Also announced was a change to next month’s regularly scheduled Quorum Court meeting on Monday, July 13. The meeting will begin early, at 5 p.m. so the Court can see a presentation on solar panels to cut costs to the county for their lights and HVAC units. According to Akin the plan is not to build a big farm but to install solar panels by the helicopter pad at DMHS and will be enough for the county to use. 

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