Finances for Drew Memorial Health System looked better than expected for August DMHS Chief Executive Officer Scott Barrilleaux told the Drew County Quorum Court Monday, Sept. 14, at the regularly scheduled meeting. While the August Financial Report was not available in time for the meeting, Barrilleaux reported the daily census, or patients occupying beds, was the best the hospital has had all year and cash decline was not as significant for the Health System in August as it had been in July when Barrilleaux first warned the court of financial issues.
While the hospital is “not out of the woods” and still has “a ways to go,” a American Rescue Plan Act steering committee recently approved a $60 million package to go toward hospitals who are having a hard time.
According to Barrilleaux, it appears that hospitals that qualify will receive three months worth of wages, which DMHS is intending to apply for. Cliff Gibson, County Attorney, pointed the court in the direction of Arkansas Business Magazine for an article that explains the hardships Arkansas hospitals are facing. With judge Robert Aking and Barrilleaux stating a push for better reimbursement from Medicare and Medicaid would do a lot to address the issue. Barrilleaux pointed out again the reimbursement rates don’t cover the cost of care the hospitals are providing.
After the hospital report, Gibson picked up the conversation by explaining Ordinance 2022-23, the sole ordinance on the September agenda, to the court. Gibson began with a disclaimer, letting the Court know he personally supported the appropriation ordinance which would approve matching funds for the Jerome Building through the museum commission.
“The Jerome School was a project that began in the early 2000’s,” Gibson told the court. Judge Damon Lampkin and Shelia Lampkinsaw a big and important historical project in Jerome, Ark. According to Gibson, grants made rehabilitation work on the building possible and also listed the building on the historical registry. Since then the building has been used by the community of Jerome for community events and as a voting center. The town charter for Jerome was dissolved earlier this year.
University of Arkansas at Monticello professor Kyle Day also supported the ordinance, telling the court this is a “great opportunity to increase the footprint for heritage tourism.” He pointed out that heritage tourism is increasing with the McGehee museum having 30,000 visitors and the Jerome School is an important piece of the puzzle with a number of German Officers housed there. He then asked the court to support the proposal.
The owner of the building is the Drew County Museum Commission. When asked who would be footing the bills for regular maintenance and bills, the answer was not given. Help from the City of Monticello is possible in paying the matching funds and Gibson said he would be happy to speak to the Monticello City Council to see if the City was interested in helping with the matching funds. Justice of the Peace Frank Appleberry asked if the Court should wait to see if the City would be willing to help, however, Akin stressed the urgency in getting the funds approved claiming the restoration was time sensitive for the building before winter set in.
All justices, except for Rene Knowles, who was not present at the meeting, voted in favor of the Ordinance which will provide $22,158 from the County General Fund to the Drew County Museum Commission to provide the matching fund for the grant. However, Appleberry stated after the vote that although this was a worthy cause, the court needs time to consider things. “I, personally, would like to have more time. I think it is a worthy cause but more time would have been more appropriate,” he stated.
Gibson thanked everyone for the vote stating, “I think it is the right thing to do, as Mr. Appleberry said, it is a worthy cause.”
A change in voting centers was made by the Drew County Election committee in voting centers for the county on Monday, Aug. 29, with the Southeast Arkansas Regional Library, 114 West Jefferson Street, replacing the Presbyterian Church, according to Drew COunty Clerk Nancy White, who reminded the court that with the voting centers, voters can vote where they choose instead of having a set polling place to cast their ballot. White also reminded and encouraged any voter who has changed residences since the last election to change their address, which they can do over the phone. Any voter or resident who has not voted in the last two general elections, also needs to go to the courthouse and fill out a new registration form to be active again. The general election will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 8 with early voting being held in the courthouse beginning on Monday, Oct. 24 in the Club Room on the first floor.
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