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Tough year for HAMC

By Staff | Oct 11, 2013

The Heart of America Medical Center announced at its Good Samaritan Hospital Association annual meeting that it completed its 2013 fiscal year with a more than $1 million deficit, but hospital officials believe they have implemented a plan to improve its financial situation.

The hospital reported a $1.02 million loss in total income for the 2013 fiscal year, after seeing income of $1.38 million in 2011 and $634,000 in 2012.

It wasn’t the largest deficit the hospital has seen recently, as in 2009 it reported a $1.2 million deficit.

HAMC Administrator Jeff Lingerfelt pointed to a number of reasons for the deficit, including fewer outpatient visits and a lower census, especially in the long-term care area.

The hospital also sustained a mass of bad debt that it was unable to collect, up nearly $500,000 from 2012.

But Lingerfelt said at the meeting that a number of measures have been put in place that are already starting to show improvements.

Instead of contracting workers in the emergency room, the hospital is staffing the ER itself. Based on data from the first five months of the hospital’s next fiscal year, officials believe they can save 27% annually.

Another key was the addition of a permanent MRI machine in April, which officials said has already given the hospital a revenue boost.

At the meeting, officials reported hospice care has been trending down since 2008, but for the first half of the 2014 fiscal year, they have already had more hospice days than in 2012 and 2013 combined.

Through August, the 2014 fiscal year has shown a $252,000 surplus and a significant decrease in bad debt.

The meeting wasn’t without some drama as many representatives of the more than 20 member churches showed displeasure in staffing changes at the hospital over the past year.

Chris Lindseth introduced an advisory motion to return the term limits of members of the GSHA Board of Trustees from four three-year terms back to three three-year terms.

Lindseth and others argued that getting new members on the board would bring a fresh perspective.

The change to four terms was made by the board about a year ago, according to board member Jon Nelson, to keep in place experienced board members in a tumultuous time in the health care industry.

But others stated that nine years was a long enough term.

The motion passed and will be taken up by the full GHSA Board.

Mark Schaan and Nelson both ran unopposed and maintained seats on the GSHA Board of Trustees.

Rusty Gebhardt, who resigned from the board last month, was replaced by LaNeta Pieterick, who defeated Arland Geiszler in the election for that spot. Pat Tracy ran unopposed and replaced Arlyss Bergrud, whose term on the board had expired.

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