Sheriff Joe Benison meets with Hospital Board to discuss bingo funds

Sheriff- Hostil

L to R: GCHS Board members: Margaret Bir, Sheriff Benison, Lucy Spann, Elmore Patterson, Jasmine Smith, Pinnia Hines, Shirley Edwards and Rosemary Edwards. Not shown are Eddie Austin and John Zippert who also attended the meeting.

Greene County Sheriff Jonathan “Joe” Benison, together with his executive assistant and bingo clerks, met with the Greene County Health System (GCHS) Board of Directors as part of their regular meeting on Tuesday, April 18, 2017. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss with the Board their concerns over the status of payments from electronic bingo parlors to the GCHS, which operates the hospital, nursing home, physicians clinic and home health services.
On June 2, 2016, Sheriff Benison adopted a new rule for bingo which stipulated that the Greene County Hospital was to receive a fee of 4% of the amount paid to vendors, who provide bingo machines, to be paid to the hospital for providing health care services to the residents of Greene County.

The Sheriff adopted this rule change as a way to share some of the revenues generated by electronic bingo, under Alabama Constitutional Amendment 743, with the Greene County Health Care System.
Based upon estimates from the bingo clerks, Elmore Patterson, CEO of the Greene County Health System projected receiving $3,500 per month from each of the four operating bingo parlors as of June 2016. This would total $14,000 per month or $168,000 per year.

The GCHS Board informed the Sheriff that since adoption of the rule in June 2016, the health facilities have not received these 4% fees from the vendors. The GCHS has received an average of $5,133 per month for the hospital and $ 1,104 per month for the residential care center (nursing home). These averages include a one-time payment of $30,000 from Greenetrack and smaller donations as a sub-charity from all of the bingo operation. The Anchor Group, the charity operating the River’s Edge Bingo facility is the only operation that has been paying the 4% vendors fee under the Sheriff’s rules.
Sheriff Benison said that he understood the Greene County Health System’s concerns with the shortfall in the 4% vendors fee.
He said that he wanted to discuss this with the bingo operators, including the Palace Bingo, a new electronic bingo hall at the Knoxville Exit on Interstate 20/59. He said that after he consults with the bingo operators that he and his clerks would report back to the GCHS Board of Directors.
Elmore Patterson thanked the Sheriff for attending the meeting and said, “Health care is critical to Greene County. The GCHS is providing quality health care to residents of Greene County and surrounding areas. I just reported to the Board that we had an overall operating loss of $538,000 for the first six months of this fiscal year, which began October 1, 2016. This loss matches the half a million dollars of uncompensated care that the GCHS provided to Greene County citizens, during the same time period, with limited incomes who lack insurance or other health care payers. We are looking to electronic bingo, the county government and others sources to help us cover our deficit which basically comes from serving the people of our county who are poor and not covered by any health insurance.”
All of the GCHS Board members also thanked the Sheriff for coming and listening to the concerns of the community. The members said they hoped to hear some positive response from the bingo establishments and the Sheriff in the coming weeks.

A renewed Greene County Health System…Part 2

By Mynecia D. Steele

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Greene County Residential Care Center residents socialize as they enjoy a balanced meal prepared by the cafeteria staff.

The Greene County Health System (GCHS) believes in reaching out to the community, says CEO, Elmore Patterson. “We are encouraging people to come to the Greene County Health System through campaigns, billboards, posters and our website,” Patterson stated.
GCHS hosts free semi-annual health fairs. These fairs are held with the intention of educating the public on health information, benefits and services that are available to them. These events are open to all, Greene County and surrounding communities alike.

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Monthly health screenings are also provided throughout the county along with diabetes classes. Many Greene County residents suffer with high blood pressure and diabetes.
Town Hall meetings are held on a quarterly bases sponsored by the Greene County Health System. These meetings allow the community to voice their opinions and bring any concerns or thoughts to the attention of the GCHS.
Patterson shared that the Greene County Health System also started the “I am Greene because . . .” campaign to give the community a chance to show their support for the health system.  One poster features Thom Smith, who says, “I am Greene because GCH saved me from a massive stroke.”
Last year, the GCHS hosted A Day of Service in Branch Heights. As a result of this service project, every child in the Branch Heights community received eye checks and general physicals before the start of the school term.
GCHS also provides meals to the elderly every November.
The Greene County Health System hopes to make its mark on Greene County.  It strives to continue working with the community and informing them about health care and health disparities affecting African Americans in most rural areas.
GCHS provides the only hospital in Greene County, therefore, it becomes the safety net hospital, said Patterson. This means that the GCHS must provide care for people who have no money, or limited resources.  Many Greene County citizens do not have healthcare. The GCHS must provide for them with no profit in return.
“The county’s health status is lacking because the state of Alabama did not expand Medicaid,” Patterson said. “We care for about 1.2 million dollars of uncompensated healthcare.  The community must work together to help with those uncompensated people,” said Patterson.
He expressed appreciation to Greenetrack, Inc. and the sheriff’s department for the help they have provided recently.
The Greene County Health System is directing more people into its primary care. By visiting a primary care center, patients have the opportunity to build a relationship with a care provider whom they can follow up with regularly.
Patients who visit primary care are also more likely to take their medication, and less likely to come into the emergency room for non-emergency services.
The Greene County Health System plans to expand by setting up a primary care clinic in Boligee.
Many people don’t realize that the Greene County Hospital is the closest emergency room in the West corridor of Alabama on I-20, which leads into Mississippi.  Therefore, the Greene County Health System cares for many motor vehicle accident victims.
If outside people are willing to put their lives in the hands of the Greene County Health System, GCHS team hopes that the citizens of Greene County will also give them a chance.
“The only way you’re going to know if its good or bad, is trying it.” Patterson said. “Trying it for yourself; not going off of a rumor. We have to get past that.  GCHS is ours. We should use the facilities and support them as well,” he emphasized.

A renewed Greene County Health System Part 1

By Mynecia D. Steele

Imaging Room

The X-ray equipment located at the Greene County Hospital can be seen in an upgraded, under water themed, X-ray room.

The Greene County Health System (GCHS) is constantly working on improving its facilities and reputation, says Mr. Elmore Patterson, CEO of the Greene County Health System.
Patterson has worked to upgrade the Greene County Health System, and in less than three years of holding this position he has overseen various renovations.
But, Patterson does not take all the credit for the current condition of the Greene County Health System. Great employees create a comfortable environment for the patients and residents.
GCHS only hires the best Patterson said. There are three full time physicians, Medical Director, Dr. Salahuddin Farooqui, MD; Dr. Thomas McDermott, MD; Dr. Michael Gordon, MD; currently working within the health system.
The staff also includes one part time physician and two nurse practitioners, Kurtizzia Howard, CRNP and Cheryl Hill, CRNP. Each physician is board certified.
GCHS also has about 150 other full time employees. The staff includes: registered nurses (RN), licensed practical nurses (LPN), certified nursing assistants (CNA), business office people and engineers. GCHS even works with the Greene County School System, providing its nurses to work in the schools.
Great staff is grounds for well-run facilities. The Greene County Health System is CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) certified. This is the same certification that all Alabama health centers are required to meet.
Yes, the facilities in the Greene County Health System are held to the same standards as all other health care facilities in Alabama. But, GCHS strives to go beyond the minimum requirements set by the state of Alabama.

Three Main Departments

The Greene County Health System is divided into three main departments. These departments are: the Greene County Physicians Clinic, Greene County Residential Care Center and the Greene County Hospital.
In addition to the three main departments, the GCHS provides urgent care, home health, rehab (including: physical, occupational, and speech therapy), radiology (including: x-ray and CT (computerized axial tomography) scans, ultrasounds, echocardiograms, Nuclear Medicine Testing and women’s care (mammography and bone density scanning).
The Greene County Physicians Clinic provides in house laboratory services, immunization vaccines for children, Medicaid EPSDT screenings, in house EKG services, injections (B12, Flu, Pneumonia, allergy), yearly exams, physicals (sports, DOT etc.), referrals to specialty services as needed, Saturday Clinic, mammograms and dexascans according to the GCHS website: gcheutaw.com.
All of these treatments are readily available at the Greene County Health facilities.
And, accessing the facilities is not a problem either. GCHS provides transportation for Greene County residents who don’t have a way to the GCHS campus.
The Greene County Health System not only provides a productive atmosphere for healing, but the facilities are top notch, as well, Patterson said.
“To bring a hospital to current health care trends, was a challenge,” Patterson said. “But, that’s where we are now.
“We are able to provide the same health care services that you can have rendered at any hospital in Alabama, for the care that we provide.”

Many Improvements Made

Many improvements have been made since Patterson became CEO.  The hospital is a 1958 Hill-Burton hospital. There had been no renovations before he arrived nearly three years ago, said Patterson.
Today, the facilities now have a much more modern look.
Showers and flat screen televisions have been installed in every hospital and residential care room.
The hospital has upgraded their cafeteria as well. Their meals are now aviliable to the public for purchase.
A secured dementia unit has been added on to the Residential Care Center. This renovation was completed within 30 days of Patterson becoming CEO.
Cleanliness is of utmost importance in the Residential Care center, as well.
This wards off that nursing home smell. It is important that the residents are in a safe and clean environment said Patterson.
The concern with cleanliness shows in their critics. The center is regularly monitored. Since 2013, their usual demerit count during reviews has decreased from 20 to only about six.
A buffet style line has been installed in the residential care dinning area.
Local barber, Marcus Steele and stylist, Linda Wheat visit the nursing home regularly to groom the residents. A salon and barber area has been added on to the residential care center to accommodate their services. This area includes shampoo bowl, styling chairs, hair dryers and everything needed to keep the residents feeling and looking their best.
The clinic is receiving a makeover, as well.  The roof is currently being redone.
Over the past few years the Greene County Health System has seen some major improvements, all with the community in mind.

Greenetrack sets up guarantee fund to assist Greene County Health System with payroll

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Pictured L to R: Greenetrack Boardmember Toice Goodson, Sr., Greenetrack
 CEO Luther ‘Nat’ Winn, Jr., GCHS boardmember John Zippert,  GCHS
boardmember Shirley Isaac  and Greenetrack Boardmember Jimmy Pasteur

At a press conference on Friday morning at Greenetrack, Greenetrack CEO, Luther ‘Nat’ Winn Jr. and several board members presented the Greene County Health System (GCHS) with two checks totaling $150,000. These funds will be used to establish a guarantee fund in the Merchants and Farmers Bank to insure that the GCHS can meet its bi-weekly payroll, even when payments from Medicaid, Medicare and other health payers are delayed. The GCHS has 200 full and part-time employees.

The Greene County Health System, which includes the Hospital, Residential Care Center (nursing home) Physicians Clinic, Home Health Services, Rehabilitation Services and other health care benefits was represented at the presentation by Board members – Shirley Isaac and John Zippert. GCHS board members thanked the officials of Greenetrack for their concern and support.
In early April, according to Elmore Patterson, GCHS CEO, the health system experienced some difficulties in meeting a payroll because its Medicaid payments were delayed until later in the month. GCHS board members and Medicaid itself made loans and advances to assure that the payroll was met.
Luther Winn Jr., CEO of Greenetrack learned of these problems and agreed to assist by placing funds in a guarantee account to assure that the payroll could be met on a timely basis.
Luther Winn, Jr., CEO of Greenetrack and a member of the Greene County Industrial Authority, felt compelled to step in and assist.  “Greenetrack is committed to the Greene County community. As in the past, we have done what we could to improve the quality of life for every resident here,” said Winn, “and we cannot afford to lose our hospital.”  Winn went on to say that the Industrial Authority actively seeks new businesses for the area and without a hospital, he fears that businesses definitely will not consider coming to Greene County.
Winn informed the GCHS that Greenetrack was receiving $75,641.07, mostly in coins, back from the State of Alabama, in connection with litigation concerning the first raid on Greenetrack in 2010. These funds were awarded back to Greenetrack by Special Circuit Judge Houston Brown, in a summary judgment on February 3, 2016, in a hearing in Greene County. The case also involves over 800 electronic bingo machines seized by the state in the same raid.
The coins were in Greenetrack’s vault but the State of Alabama, who seized them, could not prove that these funds were derived from illegal gambling activities and thus agreed to return them.
Greenetrack’s Board of Directors agreed to match the State’s funds with an additional $75,000 to create a $150,000 guarantee collateral fund in Merchant and Farmers Bank to back-up the GCHS’s payroll account. If the GCHS has to draw upon this account to support payroll, it will have to replace the funds before drawing on the account again. “This will insure that the GCHS’s employees will never miss a paycheck,” said Winn.
Shirley Isaac of Forkland and GCHS Board member said  “ We are grateful to Mr. Winn and Greenetrack for their support and confidence in the hospital, nursing home and other services. This will surely help us to meet our responsibilities to our hardworking and dedicated staff.”
John Zippert, another GCHS Board member said, “ We appreciate what Mr. Winn and Greenetrack have done to help the GCHS but it is up to us as citizens of Greene County to do our part and use the facilities, health personnel and services available at the hospital, residential care center and physicians clinic.”
“We have 20 beds in the hospital, 70 beds in the nursing home, 3 doctors and 2 nurse practitioners at the clinic, a full lab, new X-ray machine, women’s health center with mammography, physical, occupational and speech therapy services, home health services and many other health services at our facilities. There is no reason to go to Tuscaloosa, Demopolis or elsewhere for medical and health services unless you are referred by GCHS. If we don’t use our facilities and staff, we will surely lose them,” said Zippert.
Elmore Patterson, GCHS CEO said, “We welcome this support from Greenetrack. We hope that we will also secure some regular monthly funding from Sheriff Benison’s bingo rules which will help us meet the costs for serving so many people in the county who cannot afford healthcare and those with Medicare and Medicaid whose reimbursements do not meet the full cost of providing care.”

GCHS Greene Team honors volunteers at luncheon

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The Greene Team, local volunteers who devote time and treasure to the Greene County Health System, recognized their members’ contributions at an Annual Volunteers Luncheon held Tuesday, May 31, 2016 at Ruby’s in Eutaw. The luncheon featured presentations on Domestic Violence Awareness by Sheriff Jonathan Benison and Deputy Sheriff Lt. Jeremy Rancher.
The Greene Team was organized in 2010 and currently has 39 active members who contributed 2,766.5 volunteer hours to the GCHS from October 2015 to date.In addition to serving as receptionists and advocates for positive community relations, the Greene Team also raises funds for special projects to benefit the Greene County Health Systems, including purchasing visitors’ sleeping cots and TV’s for hospital rooms, personal items for residents of the nursing home and more. The Greene Team volunteers are local individuals, mainly retirees, who choose to give more to their community through the GCHS.
Mrs. Jeanetta Hall serves as president and Mrs. Melruth Carter as secretary. Mrs. Geraldine Walton was mistress of ceremony at the luncheon