Health Dept. looks to adapt to changes in healthcare

Abbi Overfelt

January 21, 2014

LAURINBURG — The Scotland County Health Department must adapt to changes in healthcare or face inevitable failure, department director David Jenkins told the Board of Health at its Tuesday meeting.

“The number of clients in all programs are down, the number of revenue is down, the amount of Medicaid funding is down and the amount of Block Grant Funding is continuously being cut,” Jenkins said. “With that in mind, we have facility costs that we have to maintain so we have to adapt or end up perishing.”

The county department, along with departments across the state, are in the process of reviewing the number of patients it serves as well as calculating staffing costs and rates of patient no-shows, Jenkins said. The department will also review its capacity, which according to the state should be at a rate of 4,8000 patients seen each year by each of the department’s physician’s assistants and 4,320 patients seen per year by the department’s nurses — 20 and 18 patients a day, respectively, numbers that were determined by an average patient visit time of 30 minutes.

All these are aspects of a Practice Management Improvement Plan, designed to improve efficiency and prevent the loss of staff. It includes a visit from a state consultation team, who will observe clinic operations.

Jenkins stressed the need to improve the clinic’s customer relations, namely at the front desk, where a receptionist sits far from the front window.

“… You don’t want to have to fill out a lot of paperwork and hand it back and have someone run it back to the desk,” Jenkins said. “You want somebody right there at the computer where they can just fill all this information in — make it easier, make it quicker, make it faster for the customer. Who wants to wait two hours to go through the front end all the way through clinical services and then check out?”

Jenkins said he and his managerial team will also be working to boost morale among staff, which he said has fallen not only at the county department but at others across the state.

In other reports, Jenkins said that activities for the department were down because of the holiday season, and that Animal Control had been working closely with the Humane Society and was able to cut its number of December pickups in half.

Jenkins also told the board that the department would soon be formulating its Strategic National Stockpile Annex, a plan for distributing medicine in the event of a major flu outbreak that is graded by the state center for Public Health Preparedness and Response. The department last year received a grade of 99 out of 100 possible points.

Abbi Overfelt can be reached at 910-276-2311, ext. 12.