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Good Samaritan Highlights 2021 Achievements and Presents Plans for 2022 With 3% Wage Increase and $14 Minimum Wage

Good Samaritan held its last Board of Governors meeting for 2021 on Thursday afternoon. The Executive Care Team presented information about the hospital’s successes over the past year, the outlook and budget for 2022, and the future of the organization throughout the COVID pandemic.

One area of the budget for 2022 includes a 3% wage increase for employees. The wage increase will align with annual performance evaluations and will result in a total wage increase amount of $2.26 million added to the wage and salary expense. “We are very excited to offer this wage increase to our employees,” said Tara Ellermann, Executive Director of Human Resources. “In addition to this increased in wages, we will also be moving the minimum wage from $13 to $14 per hour in 2022 beginning in July. Also, we continue to review salary survey data and are dedicated to maintaining market competitive wages.”

As the board and hospital leaders looked back on 2021, the vast majority of success was focused on Good Samaritan’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic throughout the community. “At the end of 2020 we were hopeful that the conclusion of the COVID battle was near,” said Rob McLin, President and CEO. “However, we faced the same and new battles with COVID in 2021. No matter what we faced as an organization, I could not be prouder of our ability to work as a team and focus on delivering excellent patient care.”

A large accomplishment in 2021 was the level of teamwork and effort each employee made throughout this past year. Whether it was the opening of a vaccine clinic in the matter of days or the creation of plexiglass windows so patients could visit with their loved ones while in the hospital, Good Samaritan stepped up to ensure patients were the number one priority.

“I have been in awe of our caregivers’ resiliency and innovativeness these past couple years,” said Adam Thacker, Chief Operating Officer. “With the arrival of the COVID vaccine at the end of 2020, we started to see the number of cases drop, but here recently, they are increasing once again. We encourage everyone to do their research and consider getting the vaccine and booster to protect themselves and their loved ones.

There have numerous successes for Good Samaritan over the past year. The residency programs have grown with 44 internal medicine residents and 16 psychiatry residents. Recruitment for both of these programs is already underway for the 2022 classes.

The Center for Therapy and Sports Performance is doing very well at its new location, having seen more than 15,529 patients. The center also added two new athletic contracts this year to provide athletic training and strength and conditioning for Vincennes Lincoln High School and Vincennes University.

The community’s need for fast and convenient health care has been a driver in volume increases for both Convenient Care Clinic locations in Vincennes. The two locations combined have cared for more than 22,441 patients this year.

A huge part of delivering health care the past two years has been through virtual visits. Good Samaritan began 2020 with the goal of 100 virtual visits. That goal was surpassed in 2020 and again in 2021. At the end of November, the organization has seen nearly 9,000 combined Physician Network and Samaritan Center patients virtually.

“The future of virtual care is something that will continue to grow dramatically,” said Thacker. “Even before the pandemic, patients were looking for more convenient avenues to receive their health care. Virtual care allows an individual to visit with their provider in the comfort and safety of their own home. This practice of health care will grow within the next five years and Good Samaritan is working to remain on the forefront of this model of care delivery.”

Growth opportunities continued for Good Samaritan in 2021 with the addition of many physicians and providers. Six new employed physicians came on board this year, including general surgeon, Dr. Bradly Vo, and hematologist/oncologist, Dr. Vetta Higgs, and thirteen new employed, credentialed allied health professionals. “Provider recruitment is a competitive environment, especially in the rural communities,” said Thacker. “We are excited to see the growth of our team and already have plans in motion to welcome new providers in psychiatry, neurology and interventional cardiology in 2022.”

After reviewing the hospital’s accomplishments for 2021, administration then presented their outlook and goals for the future. Some key initiatives Good Samaritan will focus on in 2022 include: leader development, patient access to care, improve quality and safety, service excellence and recruitment.

Leadership will continue to work heavily on employee engagement and patient experience in the next year. A three-year initiative is currently in process working toward becoming a five-star hospital, while being the provider and employer of choice.

One major focus in 2022 will be the growth of Good Samaritan’s Grant Programs Department. The department has been working hard to write and obtain grants for the organization this past year.

Along with the $4 million grant the Samaritan Center received in 2020 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) grant, they also received the COSSAP and SOR2 grants for a total of $598,000. Both of these grants focus on opioid and substance abuse. The grant will be awarded over two years and will be used to expand services that they can offer as a Certified Community Behavioral Health Center.

The new Mobile Wellness Center purchased through the CCBH grant that hit the road in March of 2021 has now traveled more than 7,600 miles taking behavioral health services to rural communities. The therapist on board has established clients in Shoals, Bicknell, Oaktown, Winslow, Odon and Monroe City. The goal of the Mobile Wellness Center is to alleviate transportation and insurance barriers that often prohibit access to care. Medication management through a psychiatric nurse practitioner is planned to be added in the coming year.

Another grant initiative was the implementation of the Wabash Valley Friendship Clubhouse (WVFC), which has been a huge success. The WVFC received Clubhouse International Accreditation which is symbol of quality and commitment to excellence. The accreditation creates substantial opportunity for continued expansion of the program. Throughout the year the daily average of member attendance continued to grow to up to 18 per day. The continued growth has resulted in the need for a larger facility for the program. A larger space has been identified and the move is anticipated in 2022.

Samaritan Center recently implemented the Samaritan Connections Center to provide support to primary care providers at Good Samaritan. The office is dedicated to serving behavioral health referrals from the provider’s to foster the continuum of care. Further initiatives for 2022 include evidence-based staff training, and expanding youth and substance use disorder services.

“Samaritan Center is pleased to provide resources through local, state, and federal grant dollars. With the need for and emphasis on behavioral health in our communities and nationally, we are actively pursuing over $7M in funding the first quarter of 2022 and we anticipate unlimited opportunities due to the forecasted funds being distributed at the State and Federal level. Our goal is to obtain any available resource to meet behavioral health needs in our communities” said Dr. Pamela Vaught, Executive Director, Samaritan Center a division of Good Samaritan Hospital.

Good Samaritan hopes to control costs throughout the organization, while also increasing revenue in areas with expected volume increases. Next year’s budget is set to reflect a 2% operating margin for the year, based on increased outpatient volumes and reduced costs.

“Good Samaritan’s budget for 2022 reflects our initiatives for the next year’s strategic plan,” said Matt Schuckman, Chief Financial Officer. “Our goals are to have a positive cash flow, grow days cash on hand and maintain our number of full-time employees. Our team is already working toward these goals and I have no doubt we will fulfill each one in 2022.”

In order to remain price competitive, Good Samaritan also announced an average rate increase for services at 2%. “In order to remain stable in this competitive health care market, we had to increase the costs of our services by a small percentage,” said Schuckman. “This increase is only for hospital services. There are currently no planned changes for Physician Network, Inpatient Rehab and Outpatient Behavioral Health.” Schuckman goes on to say that even with this increase, services at Good Samaritan are more affordable than surrounding hospitals of the same size.

“In addition to the current struggles of being an independent health care organization, we are also working to provide care in the middle of a global pandemic,” said McLin. “It has not been an easy year, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been one filled with numerous achievements thanks to the amazing caregivers at Good Samaritan. We are fortunate to have a group dedicated to providing excellent patient care, no matter the circumstances. Our hospital is also supported by an amazing community that supports our efforts to improve the community’s health and grow to become the regional center of excellence.”