Duplin times progress sentinel. (Kenansville, N.C.) 1963-current, March 10, 1983, Image 1
?^m ? \ I (trn g I PROGRESS SENTINEL ly VOL. XXXXV11N0. 10 USPS 162-860 KENANSVILLE. NC 28349 MARCH 10. 1983 16 PAGES THIS WEEK 10 CENTS PLUS TAX - j,. Duplin Hospital Seeks Fiscal Cure ? When a rural county hos pital's low-income patients turn the hospital itself into a financial patient, voters and tax-payers face major deci sions. When the hospital is $700,000 behind in paying its bills, as Duplin General in Re'nansville has been in | recent months, taxpayers must decide how close the ,9 g&P is between income and t expenses. Should they use county taxes, or raise fees to the patients who can pay. or turn the hospital over to a private for-profit firm? Under the last option, the firm probably would need a county subsidy for patients who can't pay their full bills. The problems facing ? Duplin General, an 80-bed facility serving one of the state's most rural counties, are typical of rural medical facilities, according to hospi tal and county officials. The hospital is losing money because federal Medicare and Medicaid pro grams only pay about 70 percent of the hospital's charges. Patients under ^ these programs make up W two-thirds of its care, exactly opposite what county offi cials say should be. W.J. Costin, chairman of the Duplin County Commis sioners, said the patient pay ment mix should be about 30 percent Medicare and Medi caid and about 70 percent private insurance or payment schedules. _ Duplin General now is in a 9 serious bind because it has deviated from that formula. "The government cheats on the payment of bills," said Dr. Corbett L. Quinn, of Magnolia, a longtime prac titioner in Duplin County. He appears to have strong support from hospital and local government officials when he charges "the government lies when it says it funds Medicaid and Medi care." "Quinn suggested levying a county tax, labeled as a hospital operating tax. Duplin County voters autho rized a property tax of up to 8 cents per $100 for hospital operation when they approved the hospital in a 1952 referendum. Costin said the county needs the hospital and won't allow it to close. The hos pital's Board of Trustees will meet at 7 p.m. Thursday to discuss its financial prob lems. "We've got to find some thing out by June 1," when the county plans its budget, Costin said. "They're (trus tees) $700,000 behind in paying bills, although this varies month by month. They're having cash flow problems." "We're getting hit at both ends," Costin said. "Besides having to make up the dif ference between billings and what we get, we have to send $308,700 to Raleigh this year as the county's share of the Medicaid program cost." In the past five months, the hospital billed Medicare patients $106,188 ? as much as allowed by current rules ? and billed Medicare for the $982,117 balance of those patients' fees, hospital ad ministrator Richard Harrell said. Of (hat balance, Medi care paid only $695,974, leaving the hospital with un paid and uncollectable bills totaling $286,143. Current government jargon calls that loss* 'jjon-. tract adjustments." Hospitals are barred by law from billing Medicare and Medicaid patients for the difference between charges and actual government pay ments. Some of the federally applied squeeze is designed to hold down hospital costs. Hospital officials, how ever, maintain their costs far exceed what they can recover under these programs. Hospital Board Chairman Ray Sanderson said Medi care and Medicaid reim bursements are about equal to the cost of a patient's care, but do not account for the patient's share of the hos pital's total operating costs. When all hospital costs are included, Harrell said, the actual cost of Medicare pa tients was $263.51 per day, of which patients paid $25.71 and Medicare $168.52, leav ing $69.28 unpaid and un collectable. During the past hospital fiscal year ? Oct. 1, 1981 to Sept. 30, 1982 ? 50 percent of Duplin General's patients were on Medicare, a pro gram for the elderly; 9 percent on Medicaid, de signed to aid the poor; 12 percent under a mental health program using a simi lar reimbursement formula; and 29 percent on insurance or out-of-pockef payments. Eight percent of the hos pital's billings ended up as bad debts. Harrell said. Sanderson cited a recent "worst case scenario" in which Medicaid paid $252 and Blue Cross $18 towards a patient's $670 bill, leaving a -less of $382. \ .In a memorandum to county commissioners. Quinn predicted. "It will cost in the neighborhood of $1 million initially and about $500,000 annual mainte nance (in public money) as long as the present formulas for state and federal parti cipation remain in effect." Quinn said his estimate of $1 million needed initially is an estimate of costs of im mediate replacement for old equipment. County Manager Ralph Cottle said county commis sioners appropriated $1,931 million for the hospital in the last five years, an average of $380,000 per year, mostly for investment in the building and equipment. Cottle said this amounts to about 6 cents per $100 in the county's property tax rate. Commissioner D. J. Fussell said, "Duplin Gen eral is not going to close. Closing it isn't even in my vocabulary." Fussell suggested hiring a consultant on hospital finan cial affairs to advise the commissioners and hospital trustees on possible solu tions. He and other commis sioners have said they may have to alter their priorities to maintain the hospital, but they don't favor the last resort: raising county taxes. Duplin County Schools Detail Maintenance Bill 9 Maintenance of Duplin County's $46 million worth of school buildings will cost about $5.3 million in the next five years if the school board and county commissioners are willing to pay the full price tag. An extensive school facili ties review has been pre pared for the county Boaid of d| Education. It evaluates school structures, sites and educational quality. The Duplin system in cludes 18 schools, the ad ministrative center and two maintenance buildings. The oldest buildings were built in the 1920s and the newest in 1979. The most expensive items listed in the maintenance ? estimates are roof repairs, $804,900; sewer renovation and construction, $662,600; storm windows for energy conservation. $481,600; boilers in the older buildings, $357,700; drainage tile, $355,300; and parking lot work, $336,100. Other items prominent on the list were fieldhouse and bathroom work, $273,800; floor covering, $217,800; bleachers for athletic events, $142,500; removal of barriers to the handicapped, $141,400; tractors for grounds work, $108,000; and ballfield fences, $100,000. Reroofing at the new Kenansville Elementary , School is being done at the , expense of the architect and roofing contractor and is costing the school system , nothing. I Cost estimates for indi- ( vidual schools vary widely, , from $663,400 for James Kenan Hiah School east of * Warsaw, one of the oldest high schools in the county, to $32,200 for Kenansville Ele- (, mentary. the newest school. James Kenan's needs spread across most of the line items ? $180,000 for the sewer system; $75,000 for roofs, $72,000 for parking lot, $65,000 for fieldhouse and bathrooms, $45,000 for bleachers, $40,000 for drain age. $29,000 for ball fences, $26,000 for storm windows, $24,000 for wall lockers, $22,000 for rewiring. $ 12,000 For band room - gymnasium renovation, $10,800 for ceil ing -fans, and $10,000 for gym floors. Needs totaling $606,400 vere listed for East Duplin High School near Beulaville, he county's largest school vith 776 students. Major items on the East Duplin list were $80,000 for storm windows, $78,000 for a heating system boiler, $75,000 for roof work. $65,000 for fieldhouse and bathrooms, $55,000 for bleachers, and $38,000 for handicap barriers. The study estimated $511,100 worth of needs for Wallac-Rose Hill High School, the oldest part of which was built in 1955. Major needs are roofs, $147,300; fieldhouse and bathrooms, $83,800; storm windows, $46,900; and re wiring $43,400. Needs for Chanty Middle School east of Rose Hill were estimated at $406,700 with gymnasium-bandroom reno vation to replace a frame building estimated at $50,000. Enrollment is 366 students in grades seven and eight. 1982 Duplin Sheriff's Department Reports Half Stolen Property Recovered Duplin citizens who were victims of theft in 1981 had a 50 percent chance of having their property returned, Duplin County Deputy Glenn Jernigan said. And. the re covered property almost never returns valued as much as before the theft. The Duplin County sheriff's deparetment received reports of $213,393 worth of property stolen during 1981. The sheriffs' department recovered $117,059.99 in stolen goods during the same year, Jer nigan said. Figures for 1982 will not be available until mid-year, due to the con tinuing investigation of some ol the crimes. The sheriff's department averaged about five investigations of theft a week during 1981. The average value of the 1981 thefts was $881.79. And. 139 of the investigations were solved that year. "Money is one of the hardest things to recover." Deputy Jernigan at the Duplin Sheriff s Department said. "It is easily spent without being traced. But, an automobile is easy to trace because of the title and serial number of each car which is registered with the Depart ment of Motor Vehicles." Household items or personal property are difficult to ^id -htify without a serial number or "ah identifying mark. The Duplin County Sher Glenn Jernlgan rif's department is currently participating in.a statewide program called Operation Identification, a part of the Crime Watch project started by the Department of Crime Control and Public Safety. Operation I.D. involves the marking of personal property with the owner's drivers license number, to make the item easy to identify. When a person marks property within the home or place of business, he or she qualifies for an Operation I.D. warn ing sticker. The stickers are placed at each point of entry, Jernigan said. The property should be inventoried with a description including the brand name, serial number or owner's identification number and the purchase price. The inventory should be filed in two different places such as the home and office. "The biggest problem with the recovery of property is identifying the items," Jernigan said. "You have to be able to prove to a jury the item belongs to you and that is hard to do on items with no serial number or identifi cation number. And. we suggest a person mark all property with identification numbers because many items have serial numbers stuck on and after a few months or years the number will become loose and fall off." Jernigan suggests the use of an electrical writing tool to permanently embed owner identification numbers in property. Items such as jewelry and silverware cannot be marked, and Jer nigan suggested the items be inventoried and photo graphed for indentification purposes. "If we are unable to prove that it is stolen, the suspect gets the property back," Jernigan said. "But, even when property is recovered, it's doubtful the victim gets the full value back. Most of the time the property has been damaged in some way and many sentimental items cannot be replaced or re paired." In ases where stolen propert> is returned and the stlspe. ^onvic"vt judges will impose a resti tution for the amount of damage to the items. Resti tution is only imposed upon those released on probation or paroled or allowed work release. However, Jernigan added, the convicted thief can be sued in civil court for damages. "It's hard to know how much good the program (Operation I.D.) does because we don't know the number of times a criminal has walked up to a door and seen the warning sticker and left," Jernigan said. "And, the breaking, entering and larceny cases are some of the hardest crimes to solve be- ? cause you don't know for whom you are looking. The suspect can be male or female and of any race ? there are no eyewitnesses to help. But. we think Opera tion l.D. is working because we have had a report of a breaking, entering and larceny at a business when all the equipment was marked with identification numbers but a kerosene heater. And, the kerosene heater was the only item stolen." Homeowners' policies can help victims of theft replace the stolen property if the items are never recovered, Mrs. Hilda Booth of Booth Insurance in Kenansville. explained. Victims of theft, insured by a homeowners' policy, can file a claim for the missing items as soon as the property is reported missing to the Sheriff's De partment. A homeowner's policy covers most of the general merchandise within a home and most policies are $100 deductible. A home owner's policy d >es have limits on payments for stolen items such "-as silverware, jewelry and money. "For the owner's protec tion." Booth said, "we often tell then to h.sve an inven tory of to.ir pe-sona! property, especially silver ware, jewelry and other more valuable items. And, a photograph of the items is helpful. Items not covered under the general home owner's policy can be in sured by a floater to the policy, specifically identify ing the items." Booth said. "The Duplin County average of solved thefts was better than the national average in 19B1." Jernigan said. "But we won't be satisfied until all the cases are solved." Board Of Education To Plan Budget The Duplin County Board of Education began putting its 1983-84 budget together in a special meeting March 8 in the school headquarters building in Kenansville. It also continued a review that began Tuesday night of long range facilities plan. The board will conduct regular business at 7:30 p.m. March 15 and continue budget deliberations. That meeting also will be held in the school headquarters building. Craig Phillips, N.C. super intendent of public instruc tion. will tour county school facilities March 16, starting with an 8 a.m. breakfast at North Duplin Elementary School near Calypso. He will visit the Warsaw, Kenansville and East Duplin schools and be the guest at a reception about 3:30 p.m. at the Wallace-Rose Hill High School. Phillips will take part in a regional school superinten dents' meeting at 7:30 at school system headquarters. The board plans to approve its budget proposal in a special meeting at 7:30 p.m. March 29. It will pre sent its budget proposal to the county board of com missioners April 5. The board was informed by Herb McKim of Ballard, McKim and Sawyer, Wil mington architects, that re placement of the Kenansville Elementary School roof will start this week. The work will be done at no cost to the school system because of the failure of the roof on the two-year-old building. Warsaw Waste System Finished Construction of waste water treatment facilities for the town of Warsaw, repre senting a cost of almost S2 million, has been completed by Miller Building Corp. of Wilmington, general contractor. The tertiary filterihg sys tem includes a complete laboratory of 1.200 square feet and three pumphouses. Tests for quality control and purity are made in the lab. The three-phase,610,OOO gallon capacity filtering sys tem includes oxidation ditches, clarifiers and final filtering. The plant was designed by McDavid Associates Inc. of Farmvitle. engineers. THE DERNED DOME LEAKS OR THE CUSSED CUPOLA HAS A HOLE IN IT - Whatever you might want to call it, that thing on top of the Courthouse allows water to dribble into the courtroom and it disrupts court. Fact is, it took nine garbage cans to catch the leaking water Monday in the main courtroom. As the rains came down, court had to be moved into the new courtroom. Stacy Smith and his maintenance cr*^ rallied to the rescue. Seems some of the timbers in the old cupola rotted, and when there is rotted cupola lumber, it's caput. The tapered tin top tore, too. Caput county courthouse cupola caused catastrophet . Well. I do declare!... ?