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Cost to care for uninsured is rising
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Costs to provide health care for uninsured patients are rising, according to a report given at Tuesday’s Liberty County Hospital Authority meeting by Liberty Regional Medical Center CFO Sam Johnson.  
Johnson said the hospital spent nearly $400,000 in June on Liberty and Long county residents who couldn’t afford service.
Authority member Dr. Alan Baroody asked if there is a month-to-month pattern in the health care costs for the poor.
“This is the largest month we’ve had this year to date,” Johnson said. “We are seeing an increase for indigent care, obviously a result of the economy.”
The hospital is receiving proposals for its new adult day care center, which will be an extension of the long-term care facility in Ludowici, Coastal Manor.
Facility Director Elise Stafford said she’s hoping for a 5,000-square-foot steel building with at least 2,500 square feet of common space.
“In order for it to be beneficial, we were hoping to be able to serve at least 50 people,” Stafford said.
She said she is optimistic and excited about the project.
“It would allow people to stay at home longer instead of having to stay at a facility, which is the state’s goal — having to save Medicaid money,” Stafford said.
“I think it’s a very logical expansion of services you provide,” said authority member James Rogers, who is acting as chairman in Jon Long’s absence.
EMS Director Jim Turner estimated the Walthourville EMS station should be up and running in the next three weeks once a staff is hired.
Authority members agreed with Walthourville’s request for more emergency medical services for the west end of the county at last month’s board meeting.
Customer service training for hospital employees also is continuing.
Newanna Rogers, a LRMC registered nurse, leads the three-hour classes and she’s making the rounds to all of the hospital’s 333 employees.
All doctors, nurses and staffers are learning to acknowledge, greet, introduce, explain and thank patients.
“So we’re teaching the standard forms of communication to all employees,” Rogers said. “If they use it — eat, sleep, and breathe it — we should go really far with this.”
Training is scheduled through the end of August.
“Keep in front of the employees at all times…not just something we have once a year and its swept under the rug,” added LRMC Marketing Director Rene Harwell.
LRMC’s also has begun work on its first memorial garden.
“Initially, it was a very small undertaking, I thought … but I will tell you we raised more than $5,000,” Chief Nursing Officer Donna Cochrane said.
About 100 people attended a Lowcountry boil fundraiser July 10, where engraved bricks were sold to build the garden’s walkway.
“And this is going to be project that will grow with us,” Cochrane said.
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