Electronic medical records up and running

By Messenger Staff | Published Wednesday, February 5, 2014
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Doctors at Wise Regional Health System are posting an average of 1,800 orders per day electronically, using the new electronic medical records system installed over the past year.

The hospital’s board of directors got that information in a report at its Jan. 27 meeting from Jennifer Graham, director of clinical and ancillary applications.

Graham said the installation of the paperless electronic health information system was a significant step in meeting federal requirements that all health-care providers convert to electronic medical records.

Wise Regional has installed more than 80 new computer terminals throughout the facility for use by physicians and nurses to both input and access patient information. Technical staff is on call around the clock to support the system, which is backed up nightly and is also backed up off-site on a monthly basis.

Graham said despite the large amount of changes involved, the system is working well.

Implementation of that system, along with equipment purchases for the new Parkway Surgical and Cardiovascular Hospital in Fort Worth, accounted for most of the $8 million increase in capital purchases the hospital system saw last year, according to Chief Financial Officer Jim Eaton.

Eaton noted the system posted an $800,000 gain from operations in December, with the net loss from the Bridgeport facility falling to $237,000. That reflects the cutback in services there to emergency and outpatient only.


CEO Steve Summers reported the board will be having a retreat in the next few months to review the recent Community Health Needs Assessment and discuss planning for the hospital system’s future growth.

He noted plans for a new Air Evac headquarters have been sent to the city of Decatur and said he expects the helicopter ambulance system will start building as soon as approvals are received. The addition, which will be in a separate building, will create more room inside the hospital for the expansion of the outpatient imaging department.

Board member Mark Duncum reported the hospital continues to work toward refinancing $55 million of its bonded debt – approximately 75 percent of the total – with the remaining 25 percent to be refinanced in September. Rating agencies have been invited to consider the hospital’s bond rating.

A lower, investment-grade bond rating would substantially reduce the hospital’s interest payments.

The building committee is also looking at future facilities requirements in Decatur and believes within the next four to five years, additional beds and surgical space will be needed on the main campus. To meet that need, the refinancing project calls for $10 million in new debt that would be used to construct a new physical therapy/sports medicine/fitness facility.

That facility, located in a stand-alone building on the hospital campus, would free up significant space in the north wing of the hospital, which could then be used for an expansion of beds and surgery space.


  • Summers told the board an unannounced inspection of the Intensive Outpatient Program at Behavioral Health Services by the Joint Commission on Hospital Accreditation resulted in only six recommendations out of 1,200 standards the unit is required to meet.
  • Chief nursing officer Sue Sewell noted that Wise Regional employs 322 RNs, 64 LVNs and 157 ancillary nursing employees in 12 departments. She said the facility handled 7,696 surgical cases in 2013 – a 15 percent increase over the previous year.

The board also:

  • approved replacing two air handler units on the West Campus at a cost of $317,510, and OK’d another $2,967,366 to purchase additional equipment for the Parkway facility, including an $800,000 portable CT unit.
  • approved recruiting a neurosurgeon to provide services at both the Decatur and Parkway campuses.
  • approved new appointments to the medical staff based on the recommendations of the Medical Executive Committee and accepted the medical staff’s annual review of various medical service contracts.

The board’s next meeting is 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 24, in the administration board room at 609 Medical Center Drive in Decatur. The meetings are open to the public.

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