Wrangell Sentinel -


Sanger report stresses tech, credentialing for WMC


Greg Knight

Wrangell Medical Center IT manager Bob Shymanski shows off the new server rack that controls medical recordkeeping and other technology aspects of running the hospital. The WMC Board of Trustees and CEO Marla Sanger have made new technology a priority.

Wrangell Medical Center interim CEO Marla Sanger was ebullient about new technology being instituted at the hospital in her most recent report to the WMC Board of Directors at their June 19 meeting at the Nolan Center.

Sanger’s report highlighted her use of weekly updates to the board – and how new technology is helping save money at the facility.

“Nearly every weekly update mentions an electronic medical record ‘go live’ or new computer module or some other change that staff and physicians are working hard to absorb,” Sanger wrote. “We are not alone. In fact, WMC is ahead of the curve in some of these areas. This is important because meeting requirements for HITECH and Meaningful Use means the capture of additional dollars at a time when every penny counts.”

According to Sanger, Dr. Lynn Prysunka recently joined staff in attending a web-based class about the importance of documentation to support billable services.

“This is one of many examples of her leadership in dealing with change,” Sanger added. “Both she and Dr. (Greg) Salard have embraced the transition from paper to electronic documentation making it easier for others to make their own adjustment to the changes.”

A transition to a new credentialing service to efficiently vet medical staff was also brought to light in Sanger’s report.

“Of note is our successful transition to Gemini (Diversified Services), a provider of credentialing services,” Sanger wrote. “WMC has made significant progress in the way it handles credentialing and privileging in the past six months.”

Gemini Diversified Services is a California-based company specializing in managed care credentialing for the medical industry. The hospital administration previously used Bartlett Regional Hospital for credentialing of physicians. That contract expired in February.

The report also added that Borough Manager Tim Rooney and Sanger recently met with USDA Administrator Tammye Trevino and Alaska’s USDA Director Jim Nordlund to discuss a reapplication for a loan to build a new hospital.

“We will be taking the time necessary to enable confidence that our new facility will support an integrated healthcare delivery experience that offers a healing environment for our patients and a warm, inviting home for our long term care residents,” she added.

In financial reports from hospital financial officer Garth Hamblin, the total operating expenses for the hospital peaked at approximately $860,000 for month ending April 30, while net patient revenue hovered at around $700,000.

The ability of the hospital to recoup money owed in due or past due bills dipped in April, with bills seeing a jump from 90 days in arrears to more than 100 days behind during the monthly billing cycle. WMC’s cash on hand was down during the same period, from 50 days of operational funds to approximately 43 days of financial assets on hand.

Hamblin explained the connection between the two different figures.

“One of the reasons they are correlated is that as it takes longer to collect for services, then our cash on hand goes down,” Hamblin said. “It’s part of what we call the revenue cycle. The general trend is that operating expenses are steady, though there has been some decline in revenue. All of that is key to our financial health. We’re seeing our cash decrease because it’s taking longer for us to receive payment.”

The board also undertook a closed-door evaluation of Sanger’s performance during executive session. Although the outcome of that evaluation is not public information due to being a personnel matter, Wilson released a statement later praising Sanger.

“The Wrangell Medical Center Board met on June 19th and one important matter of business was the evaluation of Ms. Marla Sanger, Interim CEO, who is here in Wrangell on contract from PeaceHealth,” Wilson said. “The board is very pleased with Ms. Sanger's performance and her leadership. The board particularly admires Ms. Sanger's honesty, her ability to work with diverse groups, and her enthusiasm for continued improvement of quality healthcare at Wrangell Medical Center.”

The Board also approved unanimously a ratification of revised auxiliary by-laws for the hospital, as well as an update to the WMC Personnel Policy Manual.


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