MMH suffers $350k net operating loss in July

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By Nick Nunn, Staff Writer

The Morgan Memorial Hospital (MMH) experienced a net operating loss of about $350,000 during July. The net operating loss was caused largely by net patient revenue being under budget by approximately $462,000 and revenue deductions being over budget by more than $160,000. However, operating expenses remained almost $90,000 under budget for the month of July.

During the Aug. 29 meeting of the Morgan Memorial Hospital Authority, Paul Courchaine, MMHA treasurer, and Ralph Castillo, MMH CEO, addressed the July losses.

“July was a challenging month for the hospital,” said Courchaine, and Castillo noted in his Administrator’s Executive Summary that six-figure losses were experienced by the hospital in both July 2011 and July 2012.

The average daily census for MMH was down from both last July and last month. A lack of patient volume was cited in the financial update report as the catalyst for July’s losses.

The revenue deductions that were over budget stemmed from bad debt write-offs and “higher than normal uninsured patient traffic through the Emergency Department.”

MMHA Chairman Terry Evans stated that, although those losses are regrettable, the people that came into the Emergency Department and couldn’t pay for their healthcare “got really good healthcare from us… they just didn’t pay.”

Castillo noted that the below-budget operating expenses are a sign of the good leadership from both the management and staff at MMH.

Castillo also addressed the board with “updates from Washington and Atlanta” regarding possible healthcare cuts in the future.

MMH has been a Critical Access Hospital (CAH) since 1998. Medicare reimburses CAHs at “101 percent of their reasonable cost.” Hospitals can only be certified as CAHs if they are located 35 miles from the nearest hospital and located in rural areas.

Castillo stated that members of the healthcare community “expect the feds to come after CAHs” in the future, which would save Medicare large amounts in reimbursement but would undermine former CAHs’ ability to function.

“Law would have to change” before that occurred, stated Castillo, but he noted that proposed healthcare budget cuts by the legislative and executive branches of the federal government indicate that such changes could be on the horizon.

“That’s the challenge from Washington that is coming in the near future,” said Castillo.

Responding to the recent closing of Charlton Memorial Hospital, a regional hospital in southeast Georgia, which leaves some residents of the area 30 miles from the nearest hospital, Castillo said, “30 miles is a long way to go. Especially if you are having a heart attack.”

Megan Morris, director of development and community relations at MMH, thanked those present for the success of the Festival of Friends, which raised more than $29,000 for the MMH Auxiliary. She also cited the community health fair, which had 400 registered attendees and 52 exhibitor booths, as a “huge success.”

Morris also stated that she will begin “digging into” the data from their new data collection service, Avatar Solutions, in the upcoming months as the ability to customize department reports and track progress will become possible.

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