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Hospital sets its sight on new facility

August 02, 2017

Published by the Madison Journal            

Three years after former Madison Parish Hospital (MPH) administrator Wendall Alford was sentenced in federal court to 37 months for his part in the theft of almost $5 million dollars, the parish hospital is back solidly in the black. According to current Chief Executive Officer Dr. Ted Topolewski, MPH is solvent and has nearly the amount of money stolen back in the bank.  

Topolewski says that with the help of fiscal administrator Dan Frutiger, the hospital is moving in a forward direction.  You know, we really almost lost this hospital and that would have been devastating for Madison Parish, Topolewski said.  After former Attorney Buddy Caldwell, the legislative auditor and the state treasurer agreed that a fiscal administrator needed to be brought in, things have been put back on track and we’re looking forward to exciting times at this hospital.            

Close to being shut down, MPH is now currently in negotiations with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to borrow between $25 and $27 million dollars for a new facility.  We’ve purchased four contiguous acres right behind the hospital and that’s going to be the site of the new facility. That, along with the application process, will probably take about a year where our projected patient volume for the new facility will be reviewed. As well, a simulation of our financial cash flow for the new facility will also be reviewed. This is all a normal part of a procedure like this. They want to ensure that we will be financially able to pay for the new facility.            

While working toward the new facility, Topolewski says that he’s made some major purchases and upgrades to the current hospital. We’ve purchased a new CAT scan, a new portable X-Ray machine, a new generator for the emergency room and have made upgrades to our lab.  I also just got approval to purchase a new telemetry system, which is a system we use to monitor patients hearts.  It’s a very important system for our hospital.Topolewski says that he’s also put in about $600,000 of upgraded IT equipment.  We’re now fully automated. Additionally, our dispensary for drugs is now digital. Now nurses have to input patient information before medications can be dispensed. This protects the patient because the computers can now verify that this is in fact the type of medication ordered by the doctor and at the correct dosage.Topolewski says that the hospital employs four physicians and works with Correct Care, a company that provides 24/7 emergency room physician care.              

Being able to pay for a new facility is a testament to the hard work Topolewski, Frutiger and the staff at the hospital has put in over the past three years. This hospital services almost 100% of all emergency needs in the parish and about 90% of all of the primary health care at the rural clinic so this hospital is incredibly important to this parish, Topolewski continued.

Getting back on firm financial footing was a main goal and we’ve accomplished that. I would say that if all goes well, in about three to four years we’ll be able to build a new facility.            

Before the new facility was a go, certain parameters that the state put in place had to be met. Topolewski said that global negotiations with the state Officer of Inspector General called for an agreed settlement dealing with three main areas. We had to come to an agreement about how much back money we had to pay, Topolewski continued. We’re going to be paying $1.8 million over the next four years at about a 2.3% interest rate. In addition, we had to take care of STARK (physician self-referral and payments) violations and the last area is that we had to get our billing process in order. We’ve made the first payment and gotten the STARK and billing issues taken care of, so now we are able to move forward.            

Topolewski said that he anticipates the state will keep the fiscal administrator in place, most likely, until the OIG financial obligation is paid back. Obviously that decision is up to the state, but I believe until that obligation is fulfilled Mr. Frutiger will remain with us. He and I will continue to update the MPH board members quarterly about the hospital’s business. I’m very happy with the way things have progressed.