“It just goes to show when you have patients you lose less money,” board member David Ashburn said.
The board was informed of the promising up-tick in in-patient admission during a joint meeting of the board of directors and board of trustees on Jan. 4. The board also reviewed Hutcheson’s financial report for the month of November 2011, and approved the renewal of several medical provider contracts, including one with Southern Pathology.
In addition, board members authorized the hospital to negotiate past due payments on the maintenance of an existing computer system and to purchase a new, separate computer system to track health providers’ credentials. Hutcheson controller Denise Baker explained if McKesson, the vendor for the old computer system and the financial institution agree to the proposed billing plan the hospital can spread payments out over 12 months at zero-percent financing.
Baker said she expects Hutcheson will be at a break-even point financially by the end of September. She attributed some of Hutcheson’s losses to uncompensated care.
“I can tell you we provide a substantial amount of indigent care,” Baker said. More people seem to be putting off preventative care and elective surgeries due to job loss or higher insurance co-pays, she said.
However, Hutcheson does not appear to be on a strong financial footing just yet.
Hospital marketing director Haley Johnson confirmed Hutcheson has so far received $6.2 million on a $20 million line of credit from its parent company, Erlanger Health System. In December 2011, the public learned Erlanger had suffered financial losses. Erlanger’s November 2011 finance report showed the health system was then $6.3 million over budget. According to the report, Erlanger had a $3 million loss in November 2011.
Subsequently, Erlanger Health System released a labor management plan to include furloughs, voluntary buy-outs and lay-offs. Erlanger officials stressed Hutcheson’s operations would not be affected by the plan.
In November 2011, Hutcheson had 36 births, 2,754 emergency room visits and 257 total surgeries. By contrast, the hospital tallied 54 births, 2,577 ER visits and 504 total surgeries in November 2010, according to the hospital’s November financial report.
The hospital spent $714,614 on supplies, $11,307 over its $703,307 November 2011 supply budget, Baker said. This was to ensure Hutcheson’s new surgeons would be well-equipped, she said. However, the hospital was $55,348 under budget in November for salaries, wages and benefits and $202,734 under budget for other operating expenses, according to Baker. To help cut costs last year, Hutcheson laid off 75 employees in April 2011.
The hospital did make strides in 2011 in its quality of care, according to Hutcheson administrator Debbie Reeves. Reeves told the board the hospital received a rating of 92, a favorable quality of care score for the third quarter of 2011, based on patient satisfaction survey results. In 2011, the hospital was named to the Georgia Hospital Association’s (GHA) Partnership for Health and Accountability Quality Honor Roll, Johnson confirmed via email. Hutcheson is one of 61 hospitals in Georgia to attain Presidential status, according to Johnson. The honor roll is based on clinical date provided by the federal Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services.
Before adjourning the two-hour long meeting, board members agreed to continue serving in their present positions through calendar year 2012. Planning committee chairman William Cohen made the motion to forego forming a nominating committee and instead keep the present board intact for continuity’s sake. The Hutcheson board recently experienced a reorganization after finalizing its partnership with Erlanger last year, Cohen pointed out.
The board will hold its regularly scheduled meeting to review the hospital’s finances for December 2011 at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 25, in the board conference room at Hutcheson.