By JEFF MEYERS
---- — PLATTSBURGH — CVPH Medical Center suffered $5,157,507 in operating losses in 2012, fueled by cuts in Medicare and other federal reimbursements, along with a reduction in inpatient numbers.
Hospital officials acknowledged that 2012 was a difficult year but offered hope for the future, especially with the new affiliation with Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington.
CVPH President and Chief Financial Officer Stephens Mundy presented the figures during the annual meeting of the CVPH Advisory Board, held Tuesday afternoon at Clinton Community College’s Stafford Building Theater.
“(It) was a year of challenges,” he said of 2012. “We responded well and are still responding. Changes are continuing.”
Medicare cuts took the largest chunk from the hospital’s budget, with $2 million lost in reimbursements.
Another $1.5 million loss came from a new federal program that requires hospitals to identify patients they admit overnight as “observation” patients rather than admissions.
Hospitals cannot resubmit claims for those patients but have to absorb the loss, Mundy explained.
Another $1 million was lost in changes to the federal coding system.
“Without those (three areas), we would have been close to a break-even year,” Mundy said.
CVPH did record $3.2 million in non-operating gains, mostly from investment income, which reduced the net loss to $1.9 million
By comparison, CVPH experienced operating gains of more than $7.9 million in 2010 and $7.4 million in 2011.
The hospital recorded a slight increase in the number of physicians on staff, jumping from 158 doctors in 2011 to 162 by the end of 2012.
However, Mundy did note that losses of general surgeons had a negative impact on the volume of surgical procedures.
Mundy praised regional efforts with the Medical Home concept of providing consistent care for patients throughout the community, although he noted the change in health care it creates reduced patient numbers in such areas as the Emergency Department and hospital readmissions.
“From a business perspective, that (loss of income) is not good, but it is the right thing to do,” he said. “It’s a good thing, a tough thing for us, but it is a good thing.”
Patient admissions at CVPH dropped from 11,421 in 2011 to 11,211 in 2012.
The total number of days patients stayed in the hospital dropped from 99,547 in 2011 to 96,354 in 2012.
Emergency and outpatient visits both increased in 2012. Just more than 51,000 patients were treated in the ER in 2012, up from 49,660 in 2011. Outpatient visits increased by 438 patients.
Much of the meeting focused on the affiliation with Fletcher Allen and how that partnership will translate into improved quality of health care at a reduced cost in years to come.
With four hospitals already in the mix, also including Elizabethtown Community Hospital and Central Hospital of Vermont, Mundy said he would not be surprised to see more hospitals join this and other affiliations in the next few years.
All four members of the regional affiliation have begun to meet to analyze several areas of health care, including finances, human services and planning.
Joyce Rafferty, vice president of finances for CVPH, noted that the Plattsburgh hospital has set a goal of saving $1 million in supplies and has already reached $250,000 in savings directly related to the affiliation.
“We live in the realm of possible,” Mundy said of the potential he sees in the affiliation.
“How do we make it reality?”
He answered that question by asking the members in attendance to answer two questions: “What are your major concerns related to CVPH’s future,” and “What do you see as the highest priorities for CVPH?”
Using electronic voting devices, the members felt loss of control was the major concern for CVPH and improving quality of care was the highest priority.
The hospital and its partners will set goals based on the responses and will report back to the board in 2013, Mundy said.
Paul Sands, chair of Community Providers Inc., the parent organization of CVPH and Elizabethtown facilities, paraphrased a quote from Charles Dickens’s “A Tale of Two Cities” in citing the current status of the local hospitals: “It’s the best of times, and it’s the worst of times.”
Sands praised the “wisdom, effort and vision” of CVPH Medical Center and said he was confident that the hospital would continue to grow stronger and provide quality health care in its involvement with Fletcher Allen.
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