FOGCE Federal Credit Union holds Annual Meeting

The Federation of Greene County Employees (FOGCE) Federal Credit Union held its 44th Annual Meeting on December 19, 2019 in the recently dedicated Willie Carpenter Conference Room in the credit union offices at 112 Prairie Avenue, on the Courthouse Square in Eutaw, Alabama.
Joyce Pham, Credit Union Manager announced that as of December 31, 2018, the FOGCE Federal Credit Union had assets of $1,314, 887, which included $896,874 of member’s shares, a $100,000 non-member deposit and the rest in reserves and undivided earnings. She reported a surplus of $10,076 in income over expenses for the year.
She reported that the credit union had $466,544 in outstanding loans to members, $111,867 in cash, $31,000 invested in its building and the rest invested in other credit unions. She indicated that the credit union had 896 members.
Rodney Pham, speaking for the Credit Committee stated that the credit union had made 449 new loans in 2018 for $338,675 including five car loans for $105,535.
He said the credit union has a variety of loans, from small unsecured loans up to $500, larger loans for home repair, appliances, school expenses and other personal loans, as well as car loans for new and used cars.
Carol Zippert, President of the FOGCE FCU reported on the history of the credit union movement and the specific growth of the local credit union since 1975. “We are saving and borrowing each others money. In one of the smallest, poorest counties in Alabama, we have accumulated over $1.3 million by working collectively together. In 44 years, we have grown the credit union to over a million in assets and moved from rented rooms in the back of other buildings to our own offices at the Courthouse Square in Eutaw.”
Zippert indicated that the FOGCE Federal Credit Union was regulated and supervised by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), a division of the U. S. Treasury Department. The NCUA also guarantees deposits in the Credit Union up to $250,000 for each account, similar to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation guarantee for bank accounts.
“NCUA makes sure your deposits are safe but they also have been very hard on smaller size credit unions like ours. They are always suggesting that we merge with a larger credit union. They are not encouraging credit unions like ours, which teach self-determination and self-development of financial skills, thrift and systematic savings in the Black community,” said Zippert
Zippert also announced that the Credit Union Board had named the conference room in the back of it’s office building, as the Willie Carpenter Conference Room, in honor of the longtime Treasurer of the credit union, who passed away during the past year. “We will be placing a framed picture of Mr. Carpenter in the room with a written statement of his the dedicated work in building the FOGCE FCU over the past four decades,” said Zippert.
Darlene Robinson, Vice-President pointed out that the FOGCE FCU has payroll deduction with the major employers in Greene County, such as the School Board, Catfish plant, Hospital, WestRock box factory and many others. “This means that you can make savings and pay loans through your place of work. The funds will come out of your check and come automatically to the credit union,” she said.
Darlene Robinson was also Mistress of Ceremony for the Annual meeting and conducted elections, distributed door prizes and played some Christmas related games. Two members were re-elected to the Credit Union Board, Carol P. Zippert and Earnest Edmonds and one new member, Jackie Allen, was elected for three-year terms. James Powell and Debbie Rice were re-elected to the Credit Committee, which evaluates and approves loans.
Robinson pointed out that the “FOGCE Federal Credit Union is open to all who live, work or worship in Greene County.
Membership is $10 plus a minimum first deposit of $25. You can save regularly and systematically and your savings will grow. Then when you need a loan – you have a friendly place to borrow. The Credit Union office, on the Courthouse Square, at 112 Prairie Avenue, phone number 205/372-9025, is open weekdays, to receive new members.”

Dr. Marcia Pugh chosen to be new Administrator of the Greene County Health System

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The Board of Directors of the Greene County Health System (GCHS) has chosen Dr. Marcia Pugh to be its new Administrator/Chief Executive Officer. GCHS includes the Hospital, Residential Care Center (Nursing Home), Physicians Clinic and other components of the county health system.
The GCHS Search Committee received over 40 applications, interviewed 10 persons by phone and held one face-to-face interview in the process of selecting the new Administrator. The GCHS Board confirmed the selection of Pugh at its November meeting. Her first day on the job at the Hospital was Monday December 4, 2017.
Prior to joining Greene County Health System, Pugh served as Director of Grants, Research and Outreach of West AL (GROWestAL), a division of the Tombigbee Healthcare Authority based at Bryan Whitfield Hospital in Demopolis. She held a number of administrative and nursing positions with the Tombigbee Healthcare Authority at Bryan Whitfield in Demopolis, starting in 1992. Prior to her service in Demopolis, she worked with the Jefferson County Department of Health and the John A. Andrews Hospital in Tuskegee, Alabama.
Pugh earned a Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree from the Capstone College of Nursing at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, in 2010. She has a Masters of Nursing and Business Administration from the University of Phoenix and a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from Tuskegee University. She is an Adjunct Professor of Nursing at several colleges including Aurora University and Concordia School of Nursing of Wisconsin.

“In the resume, she submitted for the position, she listed five pages of Federal and foundation grants in the healthcare field that she had written or participated in during the past ten years,” said John Zippert, Chair of the GCHS Board of Directors. He added, “We hope that she will be able to develop similar grant programs for Greene County.”
“I’m excited and I’m humbled to be given the opportunity to lead this fantastic team of employees who put quality first in providing health services support to Greene County Health System stakeholders,” Pugh says.
“Our men and women at Greene County Hospital take pride in serving the families of this community, and I am proud to join this team.”
John Zippert, Chair of the Board of the Greene County Health System said, “We welcome Dr. Marcia Pugh and will work with her in any way possible to enhance and strengthen our Hospital and health facilities in Greene County.”
Pugh listed as her major goals for improving the status and facilities of the Greene County Hospital and Nursing Home:
•Achieve a balanced fiscal position where the Hospital, Nursing Home and Physicians Clinic will have sufficient patient income and external subsidies to cover operations;
•Expand the Emergency Care capabilities of the Hospital;
•Fill the 20 vacant beds in the GCHS Residential Care Center (Nursing Home)
•Recruit additional health care providers, i. e., physicians and nurse practioners to increase services to Greene County and surrounding residents;
•Improve the image and involvement of the Hospital and Nursing Home in the community.
Dr. Pugh has two children, Nakieta, a Clinical Psychologist and Barrown, II, a husband and devoted father. She lives in Demopolis.

Hospital Board vows to keep facility open

The Board of Directors of the Greene County Health System, which includes the Hospital, Nursing Home, Physicians Clinic and Home Health Care Services, based in Eutaw, said that it will work to keep the facilities open despite widespread ‘community rumors’ and media coverage which suggested that closure was imminent.
John Zippert, Chair of the Board said, “We face many challenges to continue to operate a small rural hospital with 20 beds and a 70 bed nursing home but we have been six months from closing, nearly every month for the past twenty years that I have served on this board.”
“We need the support of the residents of Greene County, Black and White, to use our facility and services. We need the support of all public officials. We need the support of churches and other community organizations.
“We need better support from the Sheriff and the five charity electronic bingo facilities in Greene County to cover deficits in our budget caused by serving low income people in Greene County. Last year, as a public facility, we turned no one needing health care away and provided over $1.4 million in services to Greene County people for which we were not paid. This is called “uncompensated care” in the jargon of health care,” he said.
In the midst of these issues, the Board received a letter of resignation from Elmore Patterson, who has served as CEO and Hospital/Nursing Home Administrator for the past four years. Patterson submitted his resignation, dated August 30, at the July board meeting. The Board declined to accept Patterson’s resignation and urged him to reconsider.
Patterson said at this, the August meeting, that he still wanted to resign but would stay until the hospital finds a replacement. “I do not want to leave you without a suitable replacement but I have tried for four years and I do not feel I have the support of the community for this healthcare facility. I want to move on to other opportunities but I will assist in any way I can.”

Zippert suggested a comprehensive search process, similar to the one used to recruit and employ Patterson, which would require 60 to 90 days from announcement to selection. A committee of the board or the whole board needs to be involved in the process.
Patterson pointed out that many of the financial problems of GCHS are based on insurance reimbursement rates. “Medicare pays us about 65% of the charges that we bill; Medicaid pays us only about 32% of the charges that we bill; these are our two biggest payers accounting for two thirds of our patients. Private insurance, which is less that 10% of our patients, pays 70-80% of charges. The remaining quarter of our patients, due to low income, are unable to pay for services but we treat them anyway.”
“When Alabama refused to extend Medicaid to the working poor, under the Affordable Care Act that put more pressure on us. The uncertainties of ‘repeal and replace of health care’ coming from Congress and the President have also placed more pressure on us and all healthcare providers, especially rural hospitals and nursing homes,” said Patterson.
Zippert said some of the charges on television and in the news media are ‘fake news’. For instance, “Some officials are charging mis-management and misuse of funds and calling for an audit. We have a private CPA audit each year, which is approved by the State of Alabama and the Federal government. We must have an audit and a certified cost report to be able to get any reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid. These audits do not show any mis-management of funds,” Zippert said. Patterson brought the last six annual audits to show the board. These audits are available for inspection by the public
At the end of the meeting, all GCHS Board members agreed to work together, with public officials, especially Sheriff Joe Benison, to find long and short-term solutions to keep the facilities open.