08:20 AM

KRH Patient Accounting gives back

At the Kalispell Regional Healthcare (KRH) patient accounting department, the ninety staff members take pride in being able to help patients with any questions they have regarding the billing side of their health care services. Sometimes this can be challenging as more than 70,000 claims are submitted, 6,000 phone calls are answered, and 15,000 statements are mailed on a monthly basis. Despite this, they do a great job at providing answers in a quick and reliable way. In addition to the hard work that staff provides daily, the department loves to participate in multiple fun events that not only serve as team-bonding activities, but also benefit local charities.

On Tuesday, November 26, the team got together for the third-annual Turkey Bowl Fundraiser, a Thanksgiving event where they bowl using a frozen turkey. Participants chipped in $5 for lunch and then bought a ticket to the event as well. This year, the department decided to use the money from the event to adopt a family. Each year, the Salvation Army compiles the Christmas lists of children from needy families and makes them available to groups willing to adopt those families (buy the gifts for them). The team ended up choosing to provide for six children from three different families. In total, they raised $141 from the Turkey Bowl. Additionally, scratchers they are auctioning off have raised $230 more. They were also given a $20 donation, bringing the grand total to $391 to spend on the families they adopted. “We put their list up on the wall in our office and staff members are allowed to either donate money for those items, or they can go to a store and actually purchase that item,” says Kristina Mahan, the BC/MCR Advantage Lead at patient accounting. “If we have enough money left over, we usually like to provide a meal for the family as well. We’ll purchase an already prepared meal at someplace like Albertsons and they’ll get a voucher to go pick it up themselves.”

For staff, the Turkey Bowl is one of the year’s most popular events. “Everyone loves the Turkey Bowl,” says Kristina Mahan. “They look forward to it all year and are always asking if we’re going to do it again. It’s a great team bonding event as well. Even though it’s a voluntary event, everyone is usually either participating or watching.”

Currently, there are a handful of other ongoing fundraisers at patient accounting. Their blanket drive will wrap up on December 10, as they’re looking to provide as many blankets as they can to the KRH Pediatric Unit, NICU, Brendan House, and Emergency Department. A blanket-making session was even taught last month to give staff members the opportunity to contribute. Multiple staff members are also writing Christmas cards to active military members as a way to say thank you to those who protect our freedom. There are multiple veterans and family members of veterans on staff in the department and so this is something that is very near and dear to their hearts. A Christmas potluck and sock exchange will also be happening close to Christmas day.









These fundraisers aren’t limited to just the holiday season. Last September, the department raised $1,079 at their annual school supplies drive. That money was used to buy 1,000 school items that were later donated to Elrod Elementary and Cornelius Hedges Elementary schools. The following items were raised:

101 containers of sanitary wipes
96 containers of hand sanitizer
94 earbuds
25 boxes of granola bars
116 boxes of crayons
87 folders
26 Crayola Washable Watercolors
124 boxes of Kleenex
24 backpacks
160 boxes of markers
108 boxes of pencils
39 boxes of colored pencils
1,000 total items, not factoring in individual granola bars, pencils, etc.

“Bringing the supplies to those schools was great,” says Justine Willis, a patient accounting specialist, and one of the coordinators of the fundraisers. “They brought out carts and everything to help us unload all of the supplies. They were super excited, so that was nice to see.” Not long after, the team received thank you cards from both the staff and students as a token of their appreciation. The team switches up the school that they contribute to each year to help all they can. Last year, they raised the money for Evergreen Middle School.

On top of the school drive, they’ve also heldfundraisers during the year benefiting charities such as Wings, Heart Locker, Flathead Spay & Neuter Clinic, Northwest Montana Veterans Food Pantry, and Samarian House.

Both Kristina and Justine credit the coupon cutting skills of Angel Thompson, for being able to benefit so many different charities. “She’s great at finding all sorts of deals for us,” says Kristina. “We wouldn’t be able to do half the stuff we do without the coupons.”

For Angel, it’s just all about being able to help out the community. “There are always people that need help,” she says. “Whether it’s the Veterans Pantry, the Samaritan House, or whoever, there’s always a charity that we can contribute to.” Whether it’s coupons for canned food to be donated, or for candy bars to be sold to raise money for charity, Angel is always willing to take advantage of those deals. “Smith’s has been great. They’re the go-to store,” she continues. “They’ve let me buy thousands of items before. Every time I’m there, they ask me what charity we’re buying for today.”

At the end of the day, the patient accounting staff truly care about both the organization and their community. They are willing to help their patients in any way they can. If spending a little extra time or money is what it takes to help someone in need, they are more than willing to do that.