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Hospital Authority approves budget, posts positive earnings

At the April 21 meeting of the Memorial Hospital Authority, a number of housekeeping matters were taken care of.

During the meeting of the Authority’s finance committee, members approved the hospital’s 2010 budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

Chief Financial Officer Billy Walker provided the committee with an overview of the budget. He said the budget is in the approximate range of $1.5 million, which is congruent with what the hospital’s budget has been in past years. Walker said the budget allows for approximately $600,000 for capital equipment, $600,000 for computer hardware and software and $300,000 for capital improvement.

He said a greater majority of the budget was put toward the computer hardware and software than in recent years to allow for the hospital to begin moving toward creating electronic medical records.

The budget included a 5 percent increase in gross patient revenue, which will be applied toward in-patient charges, hospital room rates and out-patient charges, according to Walker. He said the adjustment may be more or less than the 5 percent in specific cases.

The budget also included a 5 percent pay increase for hospital employees.

Questions were raised surrounding the hospital’s ability to providing the pay increases.

Hospital CEO Jim Peak said the increase must first be approved by the Hospital Authority and are contingent upon the profits the hospital anticipates on receiving in the future. He said if the profits do not materialize, they may be forced to reduce or eliminate the pay increase.

“We wanted to go ahead and put it in the budget, at this point,” said Peak.

Walker said after factoring in all the proposed changes, the anticipated profit budget for the 2010 year will be $470,959.

The finance committee also reviewed the figures reported for the previous month—March 2009.

Walker said the hospital had received $437,594 from the Indigent Care Trust Fund (ICTF) from the state of Georgia, which was approximately $130,000 less than the $570,000 the hospital received the year prior.

According to the Georgia Department of Community Health, the ICTF was established in 1990 to expand Medicaid eligibility and services, support rural and other health care providers, primarily hospitals, which serve the medically indigent, and fund primary health care programs for medically indigent Georgians.

Walker said that after receiving the funding, the hospital showed a $495,581 profit for the month of March. He went on to say that even with the reduced amount of funding from the ICTF, the current year-to-date earning are $383,506, which is actually an improvement of approximately $63,000 from one year ago.

Authority President Joe Livingston expressed his appreciation and provided acknowledgment to the entire hospital administration and staff for the hard work and sacrifices made implementing cost-cutting measures at the hospital, creating profitability.

At the recommendation of Peak, the Hospital Authority approved the appointment of the hospital’s attorneys—George Floyd, Tom Conger, Langley & Lee and Alston & Bird—and the CPA firm, Draffin & Tucker.

Johnny Grimsley presented a recommendation from the nominating committee, making a motion to maintain the authority’s current officers—Livingston as chairman, Charles Tyson as vice chairman, Glennie Bench as treasurer and himself (Grimsley) as secretary. The motion passed.

Capital equipment updates

The Hospital Authority’s finance committee also approved three purchases recommended by the capital equipment committee.

The first was an Optical Coherence Tomography Instrument. The machine is used to produce detailed images of the retina and helps physicians evaluate problems with the retina such as swelling and holes and abnormalities of the optic nerve. The piece of equipment cost $86,049.80 from Carl Zeiss Meditech Inc.

The annual net income projected from having the machine will be approximately $127,000—basically paying for itself within the first year, according to Assistant Hospital Administrator Lee Harris.

The second purchase was four items needed for the hospital lab/blood bank. The items include an automatic cell washing system for $6,112.90; a platelet incubator with agitator for $6,578; a Sero Spin Centrifuge for $2,534; and a DH4 Quick Thaw Plasma Thawing System for $4,775.40—the total for the four items coming to $20,000.30.

The final item is for the purchase of 39 22-inch and three 32-inch LCD televisions for patient rooms and different areas of the hospital. Harris said with the instillation of the new nurse call system, it became apparent that in the beds would not operate a number of analogue televisions currently in patient rooms. He said the committee recommended replacing all the analogue televisions in the hospital with digital. The total cost of the purchase was $32,210.76 from the Novation Company.

“With patient satisfaction, it is money well spent,” said Dr. Charles Walker.

The committee also approved an emergency purchase of a DocuScribe system—a report generating system—that needed replacement at a cost of approximately $5,000.