Hospital audit report shows much room for improvement

Published 4:25 pm Friday, August 24, 2018

The Hospital Authority’s audit report Tuesday raised concerns about Memorial Hospital and Manor’s cash flow and operating losses.

Draffin and Tucker LLP out of Albany issued the hospital an opinion that there was substantial doubt about the Hospital Authority’s ability to continue as a going concern, a term that refers to the hospital’s ability to make enough money to stay afloat. The authority was issued a substantial doubt to continue as a going concern opinion in 2016, then had it lifted in 2017.

With the substantial doubt opinion returning to the 2018 audit report, which ended March 31, 2018, the Authority is focusing on its goals to improve the financial slump it has found itself in.

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According to Bert Bennett with Draffin and Tucker LLP, his firm is issuing more of these opinions than ever before.

“That may not be comforting for you today, but it is real,” said Bennett. “The environment that we are dealing with is pretty tough out there.”

According to the audit report, Memorial Hospital and Manor took a significant step backwards in FY 2018. Overall gross revenue was up $9.3 million, or 7.5 percent, but net operating revenue grew by $752,000, or 1.7 percent, because of $11.5 million in uncompensated charges. Employee health plan costs pushed employee benefits up almost $1 million.

Total expenses for the year increased $4.6 million from last year.

The firm’s opinion that there is substantial doubt the authority can continue as a going concern is not a prediction the hospital will fall under, stressed Bennett. He pointed to the authority’s FY 2017 audit as proof of that.

“This is certainly not a prediction that the hospital will not operate as it is now a year from now,” said Bennett. “What this factor is considering is there are conditions in place that say there is risk involved, that this organization will not be operating in this current state a year from now.”

The hospital authority has developed a long-term plan, as well as improving short-term financial success. Focusing on revenue cycle enhancements to collect bill payments, cost structure improvements like improving productivity and keeping a close eye on expenses are all goals the hospital authority has created.

In addition, the hospital authority has plans to increase funds from the Georgia Tax Credit Program by the first quarter 2019. Since the start of calendar year 2018, the authority has received more than $850,000 in tax credit donations.

Since the end of the 2018 fiscal year, the authority has already shown improvements in collections and an increased profit margin.