Mt Pleasant News
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Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Feb 22, 2018

Gardner: HCHC halfway to budget cut goal

As hospital’s operating costs have decreased, so has number of patients
Jan 18, 2018

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News

 

Although Henry County Health Center has already made significant budget cuts, CEO Robb Gardner said he still wants to target the 10 percent reduction in operating expenses the administration laid out in July 2017.

While presenting a financial update to the board of trustees on Tuesday, Jan. 15, CFO David Muhs said that a lot has already been done to reduce costs, but it is overshadowed by a decrease in the volume of patients coming through the hospital’s doors.

“So far, we have not had to tap into our reserves as of yet, but it’s pretty thin going month to month,” Muhs reported, adding that he sees operating costs decrease each day and the hospital is making some headway, but the shift in payer mix has hurt the hospital financially.

“The percent of Medicare revenue has increased at the expense of Blue Cross, and that’s really alarming,” he said.

The December budget was heavily impacted by the holidays, with many providers taking time off to be with their family. Gardner said that the first two weeks of December were right on budget, but then it quickly flipped with fewer appointments scheduled toward the end of the month.

Gardner said he appreciates the work of the hospital’s leadership team and that HCHC is not alone in their financial struggles. “We’re not absent from having friends in this group with us,” he said.

In other news, hospital staff is working toward a centralized scheduling registration that will be implemented in March. COO Michelle Rosell said that the goal is to streamline the number of visits people are making, getting their insurance information in advance and preauthorizing those payer sources. The hospital is using internal staff, who already have a decent knowledge of the process, to train other departments.

“Overall, the goal is that when doctors are referring patients here, they are verifying insurance coverage,” Rosell said. “By implementing this process, we can improve efficiencies and improve our ability to do collections.”

In the OB services, HCHC administration continues to look for a new OB-GYN. They held an interview at the end of December, but are not extending an offer to that candidate at this time.

There is another interview scheduled with a second candidate on Jan. 31. Gardner said that the physician is a third-year resident who “presented himself very well on the phone.” Gardner said there are a lot of variables for that candidate to potentially take the position if it were to be offered. The hospital has no other recruitment potential at the moment.

Currently, HCHC’s OB department sees around 60 births a year. With the closing of Washington County’s OB-GYN Department at the end of the fiscal year in June, Gardner said that there is potential for an additional 10 to 15 births a year.

“Will people drive down here? It’s yet to be known what will occur,” Gardner said.

With board members Kent Severson and Joel Prottsman completing their certification through the Iowa Hospital Association, Gardner celebrated that the entire board is now certified. “That’s a testament to your engagement and leadership,” he said.

HCHC will host a public hearing to set the county tax budget on Tuesday, Feb. 20 at noon.

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