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Community Corner - Your Hospital’s Health

POSTED May 29, 2012 10:56 p.m.

Like all organizations today finances for a hospital are challenging. Yet, for the first 10 months of this fiscal year (July, 2011 to April, 2012) the hospital has generated revenues in excess of expenses (a profit) of $458,000. We are well ahead of our projected loss for the same period of $293,000!

There are many reasons as to why the facility is generating a profit. The first one is that we have some modest volume increases in some of our sectors when comparing this year to last year. One of these sectors is our skilled nursing sector, which we call The Care Center. Last year this 115-bed unit averaged 102 patients per day, this year we have increased it to 104 patients per day. We believe the improvement is due to a more aggressive marketing strategy. We have also seen a modest increase in our emergency room visits of 2 percent. We believe this is a result of improving some of our operating indicators for this unit plus our marketing campaign. Additionally we have seen an increase in the number of patients’ visits to any one of our three clinics. These clinics are located in Oakdale, Riverbank and Escalon. We’ve already seen 43,770 patients at these clinics over the last 10 months. This is a 9 percent increase over how many patients we saw last year for the same time frame. This is a result of better signage for the clinics, increasing the hours they are open and more aggressive marketing.

We also have seen an increase of 41 percent in our outpatient surgeries. This is mainly due to the hospital now performing ear, nose and throat procedures. In addition, we have seen an increase of 26 percent in our pain management procedures. We expect these programs to continue to grow next fiscal year.

We do have some programs that have declined from the previous year. The most critical one is the amount of patients that are being admitted to the hospital when visiting the emergency room. For the first 10 months we have experienced a 21 percent decrease in patients being admitted from the emergency room when compared to the same time frame last year.

The main reason for this is that many patients who have traditional Medicare switch to an insurance product that the hospital is not allowed by them to provide many of our services. This has had a tremendous negative impact on the hospital. It is not that we do not want to treat the patient; it is the insurance group that sponsors these senior plans forces us to transfer these patients to facilities outside of Oakdale. Of course these patients can always use our emergency room and we always encourage everyone to do so in life threating situations. We have also seen a decline in physical therapy treatments of 11 percent and in CT scanner procedures by 17 percent.

Operating Expenses

We have made some major strides in our expense reduction. One of our biggest improvements is we have decreased the use of our temporary help, known as registry. For the first 10 months of the year, we have seen a decrease in the use of this by 16 percent. This is a significant cost savings for the hospital since on average a hospital pays about 33 percent more for these individuals than they would if they were employed by the facility. Additionally we are enjoying significant savings in numerous areas such as health insurance for our employees, surgical supplies for patients, legal fees and unemployment insurance.

New Hospital

We just received notice that we can start to stock the new hospital. We expect to have final licensing in late July, which means we can then see patients! We cannot wait to show the community what a beautiful facility they have and will be announcing an open house in the near future.

John McCormick serves as Chief Executive Officer for the Oak Valley Hospital District. He may be reached at 848-4102.

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