Medical center CEO touts successes, tells of challenges

ELKINS – Davis Medical Center President and CEO Mark Doak addressed the Elkins Rotary Club on Monday about the challenges the hospital is facing in the new year: some financial and some bureaucratic.

“We are facing some challenges this year,” Doak said. “Cash is a little bit low, or at least lower than I’d like it to be. We’ve just hit a bump, but we are getting over that.”

Doak, whose background is in accounting, talked about the ongoing construction at the Davis Medical Center, formerly known as Davis Memorial Hospital. Doak said the project features a new building that includes a new entrance where registration and some out-patient services will be located. Doak said he was proud that the $13 million project was done with local construction teams.

Doak also explained the biggest reason for the change in the name is that the hospital has changed the nature of its operations as a facility. Davis Medical Center is now only 30 percent in-patient services whereas 70 percent of its services are devoted to out-patient care.

“We’ve been changing our utilization as a facility,” Doak said. “As our out-patient services grow, less of what we offer involves in-patient care. The new name more accurately reflects an expanded scope of services and our commitment to advancing medical care for this region into the future.”

Doak attributes this trend to Medicare restrictions and policies.

“Medicare is requiring all patients to meet certain criteria to be considered for in-patient care,” Doak explained. “Otherwise they qualify for observational care.” defines observational care as “outpatient services given to help the doctor decide if the patient needs to be admitted as an inpatient or can be discharged.” Someone is an inpatient “starting the day (they’re) formally admitted to the hospital with a doctor’s order. The day before (they’re) discharged is their last inpatient day.” Outpatient services include “getting emergency department services, observation services, outpatient surgery, lab tests, or X-rays, and the doctor hasn’t written an order to admit you to the hospital as an inpatient.” In these cases, a patient still is considered an outpatient even if they spend the night at the hospital.

The biggest difference is Medicare expenses and reimbursement. Doak said Medicare is responsible for more reimbursement to the patient for in-patient care, meaning that it requires less for the patient to pay, whereas observational care requires Medicare to reimburse less, giving the patient less help when paying for care. Doak said Medicare provides the criteria and then pushes for more observational care.

Doak also noted the regulations are not just hard on the patients. If the patient cannot pay for the services, the care-provider must write-off those costs at the end of the year either through collections or bad debt. Doak said Davis Medical Center sees $8-10 million in bad debt every year on average.

Doak also talked about the recognition and new and improved services available at Davis Medical Center. The American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy granted a three-year renewal recognition for quality and safety to the Center as part of its program specifically dedicated to promoting quality in endoscopy. Davis Medical Center’s Cancer Care Center also received a renewed accreditation from the American College of Surgeon’s Commission on Cancer. Doak said he also is proud that Davis Medical Center was honored as a “five-star facility,” according to a study issued by Cleverley and Associates, a leading health care financial consulting firm based in Columbus.

“As health care continues to evolve and change, our dedicated professionals know that providing quality care in a cost efficient way is a must,” Doak said. “We pledge to continue providing value to our community for years into the future.”

Contact Chad Clem by email at