Hospital lost $1.1 million in July

Charles Warner Editor

September 10, 2013

UNION COUNTY — The Union Hospital District lost more than $1.1 million in July but officials are hoping participation in a state program that helps cover the cost of indigent care and reimbursement from Medicare and Medicaid will begin to turn things around in October.

In her monthly report to the Union Hospital District Board of Trustees, CFO Cindy Gault said that the district lost $1.164 million in July. The hospital district is composed of Wallace Thomson Hospital, Ellen Sagar Nursing Home, Union County EMS, and Carolinas Health Associates and Gault said that all of them lost money in July except Ellen Sagar. Gault said that Wallace Thomson lost $900,000, EMS lost $27,000, and CHA $357,000. She said Ellen Sagar finished the month $120,000 to the good.

Gault said Tuesday that a big part of the loss the district experienced in July was due to the results of an audit by Medicare, increased health insurance claims, and maintenance costs.

“There were significant areas where the hospital was negatively affected,” Gault said. “The first was the Medicare Rac adjustments and that totaled $300,000. Medicare comes in and audits our past year’s accounts and they deemed some stays not medically necessary. They determined that they should have been observation rather than in-patient.

“The second hit for the hospital was health insurance claims,” she said. “They were higher than average in the amount of $200,000. We’re self-insured so those were health claims we paid for our employees.”

Gault said the third “hit” the hospital experienced was in the maintenance of its PACS System in the Radiology Department. She said this was due to the expiration of the warranty on the system which required the district to enter into a contract for it maintenance which cost the district $112,000 in July.

Another factor in the losses the district experienced was the seasonal decrease in the number of patients.

“We always knew it was going to be tight this summer because our volumes are low in the summer,” Gault said. “We saw that in July when our average daily census was 22.8 compared to 25.1 last July.”

Gault said an increase in “self-pay revenue” was also a major factor in the losses the district experienced.

“Our self-pay revenue continues to increase,” Gault said. “That’s all patients that come in without insurance. In July it was 14.6 percent compared to 12 percent last year. In the month of July our provision for uncollectable and charity care write-offs totaled $850,000.”

The district’s current fiscal year began in October and Gault said that as of July the district had lost nearly $6 million.

Gault said the district is taking steps to try to change this, steps that she said will begin to have an impact in October.

“We’re part of a state initiative called Healthy Outcomes,” Gault said. “That will allow us to start receiving money to cover the cost of our indigent care. With being part of this program our Medicaid rates will increase. With those two pieces of that initiative it will help decrease our loss.

“Also in October we’re expecting our Meaningful Use reimbursement from Medicare and Medicaid,” she said. “We don’t know yet what we’ll be getting from Medicaid, but we should receive approximately $800,000 from Medicare.”

Gault said the district is also looking at implementing a program that will increase the number of patients doctors are able to see.

“We’re looking at a Hospitalist program,” Gault said. “That is where we have physicians here at the hospital to provide care for in-patients. That way our physicians can stay in their offices and are available to see more patients.”

Gault said that if all the changes scheduled to begin in October take place it should help the hospital district begin reducing the losses it has experienced.

Editor Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 14, or by email at cwarner@civitasmedia.com.