Riverland board discusses contracts, budget cuts

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 18, 2001

FERRIDAY, La. – Discussion of further budget cuts and contract changes took up much of the Riverland Medical Center board’s Tuesday night meeting.

The board voted, with Emergency Services Director Dr. Sarah Lee abstaining, to award a contract for emergency room physician staffing to Emergency Staffing Solutions. Correct Care Inc.’s contract will run out Aug. 31.

Under its contract, Correct Care charged its physicians’ cost plus $10 per hour. But ESS will charge a flat rate of $93 per hour. &uot;Cost-wise, it was close,&uot; Administrator Vernon Stevens said.

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Dr. Eddie Deese of Correct Care said the company had done its best under the contract to stay true to its mission of treating patients like family.

And when it was apparent that Riverland was facing lean financial times, &uot;we took a 25-percent cut in what we were going to make,&uot;&160;Deese told the board. Still, he said he hopes Riverland will contract with Correct Care again in the future.

Earlier in the meeting, the board voted to reconsider its operation of a Jonesville clinic in the next 60 to 90 days. &uot;We can’t afford it, … and we’re fooling ourselves thinking we’ll get any business from it,&uot; said board member Fred Butcher.

Still, Stevens noted that 23 percent of Riverland’s patients come from Jonesville, although most are referred by physicians and not the clinic itself. &uot;They don’t pay taxes to us, but they’re critical to our long-term survival,&uot; Stevens said.

Meanwhile, Riverland has made other changes to cut costs. That has included eliminating positions by attrition and adjusting the number of nurses working at one time according to the hospital’s patient census, or the number of patients it is treating at one time.

Earlier, the board approved financial statements for the month of June. For that month, revenues exceeded expenses by $139,701.