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Regional Medical Center trustees are considering forming a new non-profit corporation to set the framework for a possible future business venture.

RMC attorney Bob Horger told trustees last week there are no imminent plans for the corporation.

"It could be with a physicians group or you could theoretically have it with some other hospital group," he said. "I am not suggesting any of those, but those are things you could use it for."

Trustees delayed a vote on the matter to allow them to review the proposal more closely.

The non-profit corporation will be called RMC Strategic Alliances, Inc. Horger said the corporation would provide a vehicle for the hospital's entry into a venture, but said there isn’t any specific venture currently under discussion by the board.

"In the event the hospital would enter into a joint venture with another entity, it has to do it through a non-profit," Horger said. "The hospital itself cannot enter into a for-profit venture because it is a governmental entity."

RMC Strategic Alliances Inc. would be controlled by the existing RMC Board of Trustees.

"The hospital would appoint (and remove) the board members of this entity and approve the budget and any significant expenditures every year," Horger explained to the trustees.

"Eventually, after we get down the line just a bit, we would apply for a 501c3 status, so it would be under federal IRS regulations for non-profit entities,” he said.

Horger explained the new entity would be in a similar relationship with the hospital as the current Edisto Regional Health Services, a non-profit entity consisting of seven primary care practices.

In other business:

• The hospital's auditing firm, Dixon Hughes Goodman, gave the hospital a clean or unmodified opinion on its 2017-2018 audit. This means the RMC board can rely on the financial statements in the audit in making hospital governance decisions.

Scott Yandle, Dixon Hughes Goodman senior audit manager, informed trustees the hospital saw a loss of $1.1 million for the fiscal year. The hospital's fiscal year runs from Oct. 1- Sept. 30.

The hospital had a $7.1 million loss in fiscal year 2016-2017.

"You have a positive increase in that decrease in the current year," he said. "That is a positive news when looking at this statement."

Mike Kelly, a partner in Dixon Hughes Goodman, praised the work of the RMC staff and management. He said there were no audit adjustments or errors.

The board approved the audit at the meeting.

• RMC Chief Financial Officer Liza Porterfield informed trustees the hospital ended up the month of December $2.1 million in the black and year-to-date is $3.3 million in the black. Last year at this time, the hospital was $2.8 million in the red.

"The volumes translated into higher-than-budgeted inpatient and outpatient revenues," Porterfield said. "Our expenses were well managed for the month of December. It was under budget of $1.2 million."

When combined with the hospital's primary care practices, the entire system is $3.1 million in the black compared to last year’s loss at this time of $6.2 million.

• Trustees unanimously approved spending $453,172 for capital equipment for the month. About $294,400 will go toward the purchase of security software. The software will help protect the hospital from hacking and phishing attacks.

• RMC Vice President of Strategic Planning and Marketing Carol Koenecke-Grant informed board members the hospital had about 12 people sign up for Affordable Care Act insurance during the open enrollment period late last year.

The hospital reached out to about 82 different groups, predominately churches, to inform them of the sign-up period.

The number of individuals signing up for the ACA locally has dwindled from the first year's 235, Koenecke-Grant said. She said the low numbers can be attributed to the fact that once individuals are enrolled, they remain enrolled and do not have to rejoin every year.

• Trustees received information about the board's conflict of interest and confidentiality policies, and procedures as it relates to the South Carolina Ethics Act.

Horger reminded trustees as a member of a public board, it is important trustees abstain from voting or discussing matters where they have an economic interest, and to avoid solicitations of any kind that could sway the decision-making process.

• Trustees named the RMC's Foundation Board Officers for 2019: Shane Burroughs, chairman; Charles H. Williams III, chair-elect; Allen Fairey, treasurer; Rebekkah Brailsford, secretary; and Leigh Ann Newsome, as the First Citizens representative.

• Several new board members attended their first full board meeting since being appointed by Orangeburg County Council. They include: Dr. Rocco D. Cassone, District 6; Sonya Kay Ehrhardt, District 4; Dr. Dion L. Franga, at-large; Dr. Gloria James, District 1; Dr. James Myers, at-large and John Shuler, at-large. The board members were introduced and welcomed.

• Trustees elected Cassone as vice chairman of the board.

• It was announced the 2019 RMC Foundation Gala is scheduled for Saturday, March 16 at the Orangeburg Country Club. The event begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $150 per person and $250 per couple.

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Contact the writer: gzaleski@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5551. Check out Zaleski on Twitter at @ZaleskiTD.

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Staff Writer

Gene Zaleski is a reporter/staff writer with The Times and Democrat.

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