Pearl River County Hospital progressing despite obstacles put in its path

Poplarville—The Pearl River Hospital and Nursing Home (PRCHNH) continues to make positive strides despite being shackled with debt from a previous administration’s wrongdoings that put the facility in a terrible financial situation.

Despite PRCHNH’s self-reporting to CMS years ago when the illegal actions were discovered, and ties being cut with those individuals, the hospital has had to work harder and stay focused to put itself in position for a strong future in spite of not receiving any breaks from CMS.

CEO and hospital administrator James Williams is confident about the prospectus for the facility both now and in the future.

“When I look at what this hospital has endured the past eight years to survive, and with other rural hospitals in Mississippi shutting down that didn’t have the annual $1.4 million cash withholding from CMS to deal with, it’s remarkable how it was been able to move forward and continue to be able to provide the services it has,” Williams said.

Williams said if the hospital is able to get the new funding in place to lower its current 10.75 percent interest rate on the payback of the CMS funds, he is confident that the additional cash flow that will be present from the interest savings will allow PRCHNH to continue to improve his services and stability.

PRCHNH is a designated as Critical Access Hospital (CAH) and is required to keep its emergency room open 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

“If a car wreck happens at the 2 in the morning, we can stabilize a patient and we have done this before, until the patient can be moved to a trauma center where a surgeon is right there waiting to treat a patient.”

Despite what the CAH guidelines state, Williams said that 101 percent reimbursement is not always what it seems.

“Not all of the costs are reimbursed at 101 percent. It looks good on paper, but it’s not all reimbursed. That’s not the way it works. We have administrative and other costs associated with keeping our ER open that are not reimbursed, but our ER is great for community we serve,” Williams stated.

For emergency services at the hospital, Williams says that on average, the wait time is around two (2) minutes without processing time and from door to doctor, it is an average of ten (10) minutes.

The nursing home part of PRCHNH is Medicaid and private pay only. Williams said it’s doing well, and as a whole, is financially successful. It operates on a set rate and we operate off that rate CMS gives us by being careful to manage our costs around that set rate.”

PRCHNH offers Wound Care services which provide a very vital service for a rural hospital. For example, if someone in the community develops ulcers, which is common for someone who tries to avoid going into a nursing home, or maybe a person who has a wound that either is getting treatment by someone else like a nursing home or home health, a family member, or someone else providing the treatment. In most cases, Williams said someone is likely treating the patient and in some cases with orders in place. Regardless of who is providing the treatment for the wound, PRCHNH can help.

Williams said that one of the hospital’s providers, like a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP), will not only treat the wound, but also determine what is the cause. He said the FNP and staff will usually find that the wound can be the result of nutritional deficiency, lack of blood flow, or other reasons. He said by determining the cause, PRCHNH is able to recommend things like nutritional supplements, blood thinners, and other medicine that can help the patient recover faster and hopefully avoid a recurrence of the wound.

“Physicians who have sent their patients to PRCHNH have seen how we can turn the situation around quicker and provide a better long term outcome for those patients,” Williams explained.

PRCHNH CEO and Administrator James Williams

Williams said they currently offer wound services two days a week and could go to three days if the demand increases as more people become aware of the service at PRCHNH.

Williams said he and the PRCHNH team are looking to make more services available.

“We can’t go purchase an MRI machine. It’s just not feasible. But we can work with a partner to make that service available here in Poplarville, thus making that service more accessible,“ Williams explained.

He said that the plan involves making an MRI service available for one day per week starting out. This service will be provided by a contracted mobile MRI service unit coming to PRCHNH. This would allow the MRI procedure to be performed in Poplarville for a patient who might have the procedure ordered by a doctor like an Orthopedic surgeon like a provider such as Southern Bone and Joint. The patient would have the procedure done in Poplarville, thus avoiding a drive to Hattiesburg and the results would be sent to the physician of the patient.

Williams said this MRI would not be the kind that forces a person to lie down and enter a long tube, but the Open MRI type that use a donut like device to perform the imagery services, which is the most commonly used today.

Williams is also looking at providing follow up care visits with partners in the fields of orthopedics and cardio related areas as well at PRCHNH. He said he hopes to set these services up like satellite service offerings where PRCHNH partners with the doctors and provides space for them to see their patients at PRCHNH.

He also said they plan to bring back Intensive Outpatient Psychotherapy (IOP) in the next 30 to 60 days. While this service was once offered at PRCHNH and is currently offered in surrounding areas, it is not in the Poplarville area as it once was at PRCHNH.

IOP provides services for patients with behavioral health need who are usually treated on a daily basis or possibly three days per week in either group sessions or individual sessions to help a patient in coping and behavior modification scenarios.

Williams is optimistic about the short and long term future of PRCHNH.

"I've learned this over my lifetime and it applies in health care and here in Poplarville. No matter what you do, there always 5 percent of the people you never seemed to be able to make happy. We have taken the approach to take care of the other 95 percent," he stated.

When asked about his staff at PRCHNH, his face lights up with a smile.

“I’m so impressed by their dedication of doing their jobs exceptionally despite all of the negative things that have been written and said about rural health and our hospital. We have great people here who care deeply about providing quality health care.”

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