MCMC: coming out of the COVID surge

Miners Colfax Medical Center in Raton, NM.

by Sharon Niederman
RATON — “We’re coming out of the COVID surge,” Chief Medical Officer Dr. Loretta Conder announced to the Miners Colfax Medical Center at the March 15 board meeting.  “With fewer people in the ER, we’re switching back to outpatient services, catching up on stress tests, pulmonary function and sleep studies,” she said.

Dr. Donald Belknap announced new appointments and extensions of medical privileges. Nurses are receiving cross-training.

For the third year in a row, MCMC received a clean audit. The report on the 2020 audit was presented by Clifton Larson Allen, auditor. The audit report was approved by the board. “We’re where we should be now,” said CEO Bo Beames. “We used to have numerous findings,” but that situation has been remedied. Although the current audit firm has “termed out” and reached its limit of six years, an extension of two years has been requested and approved by the state auditor.

IT director Dave Shaver presented a report on the critical nature of cyber-security. “Everything we do has elements of cyber security,” he said, “such as data and computer functions.” Identity theft is another concern, he said. The Carbon Black anti-virus program gives alerts. He explained the new VDI, or Virtual Desktop Infrastructure.

Charles Pollard, Black Lung/Outreach Manager introduced new program assistant, black lung specialist Karina Dozal, highlighting her experience with grant writing and marketing.  Creation of advertising, as well as print and web design were among her specialities.  The program is developing a database of current and former miners, all of whom are eligible for free health care at MCMC. “We want to help them take advantage of their benefits,” he said, as well as recruit and enroll miners.

CFO Lonnie Medina reported the facility has $7.4 million cash on hand, however Medicaid reimbursement is down 5.5%, while, due to COVID-19, patient census is up 17%.  Outpatient is up 12%, while surgery is down 10%.

Beames announced the clinic would receive only 66 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, down from clinics only a few weeks ago that were inoculating 500-700, then 200 a week.  The number of vaccine doses is regulated by the state, and as 74% of Colfax County is now inoculated, Santa Fe wants the southern part of the state to “catch up.”  The hospital now has ultra-cold storage for vaccine.
Pressure is coming off the hospital regarding COVID-19, he said, as only one case had been reported during the five days prior to the meeting.

He spoke of additional personnel joining the staff in surgery, internal medicine, and ER nursing, a position that would become permanent. Regarding the facility’s ongoing search for medical personnel, “People want to come here,” he said, but they are not going to come if they have to take a pay cut.
Long term care census is up by three, he said.  The hospital received a five star rating from a significant Medicaid services organization, up from three stars, while long term care continues to receive a five star rating.

One of three boilers in long term care had rusted out, necessitating a replacement expense of $130,000.
The next board meeting is scheduled for April 16, 2021.