Patient safety at BRHS not compromised, board told

Published 12:39 am Sunday, October 24, 2010

Staff Writer

Patient safety and quality of care remain the chief concerns at Beaufort Regional Health Systems, a committee of the BRHS Board of Commissioners was told Friday afternoon.
“Every department knows if there are critical items needed for patient care, those items will be made available,” said Richard A. Reif, BRHS interim chief financial officer. “We are running tight, there’s no doubt about that … but we are trying to manage our cash for patient safety.”
Reif’s comments were made at a meeting of the BRHS Finance Committee and came, in part, in response to concerns raised at a meeting of the BRHS medical staff with the BRHS Board of Commissioners earlier this week.
At that meeting, the medical staff unanimously endorsed a merger proposal presented by University Health Systems of Eastern Carolina to the BRHS board.
Some doctors, however, said at the meeting that they had already started to feel the effects of tightening budgets in their patient care — one doctor mentioned a one-time medicine shortage and others discussed operating room shortages and outdated equipment.
Brenda Peacock, a local gynecologist and Finance Committee member, said she had checked the operating room inventory following the meeting. She said there was no shortage of supplies as reported by one doctor.
“It was not a patient-safety issue,” she said.
In an interview after the meeting, Pam Shadle, director of marketing and public relations for BRHS, said BRHS has “not had any delay in shipment” and has no shortage of medicine.
Reif also told the committee that BRHS is making strides in collecting outstanding amounts owed to the health system and increasing the amount of cash it has on hand to meet its obligations and maintain patient safety.
“Cash is the primary objective at this time,” he said. “So far, we are OK … but we are being very judicious about how we manage money.”
In other business, the committee heard a report from Daniel Mallison III, director of government relations and grant support for BRHS, on grants and other sources of funds that have been obtained or are pending for the health system.
Mallison said the health system has received or has applications pending for some $1.1 million in grants for a proposed expansion of the Marion L. Shepard Cancer Center.
BRHS is pursuing other grants, including those that are related to mental health, technology and stormwater drainage, he said.
“We will aggressively pursue every grant we can find,” he said.
Mallison told the board that the health system’s financial difficulties often make it difficult to obtain grants, but those difficulties also have helped demonstrate the need for grant funding.
“Our hospital is on everyone’s radar right now,” he said. “They don’t want us to fail.”