Hospital reports losses

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 4, 2006

DEMOPOLIS &8212; Low inpatient volume in August contributed to a loss of $321,696, CEO/Administrator Mike Marshall told the Tombigbee Healthcare Authority board at its meeting Tuesday.

Dismal census figures for the summer led to a cumulative loss for the fiscal year to the end of August of $251,206 for Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital, he continued.

Not to leave the board with bad news, however, Marshall predicted the figures for September would be much rosier when presented at the end of this month. After getting a preliminary glimpse at September figures, Marshall said he believes, &8220;Doctors tried in 30 days to make up for the previous three months.&8221;

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Offsetting the low inpatient volume figures in August were a higher census of outpatients and a better than budgeted length-of-stay average.

The BWWMH inpatient figures, which fell by 11 percent, were better than most other hospitals in the state. Marshall said other facilities were facing drops of 15 to 30 percent.

Marshall also painted a rosy picture of the future because of the physicians now associated with the hospital and those he hopes will join the staff. The new orthopedic surgeon has logged 230 patients since he arrived in August and completed 15 surgeries.

He has become one of a handful of surgeons in the state to be certified for gender knee replacement, involving a smaller prosthetic for women.

Marshall said the hospital is in the final stages of recruitment for Dr. John Mantle, a cardiology consultant from Tuscaloosa, who he hopes will begin clinics at the end of October.

Dr. Richard Jones, a rheumatologist, has been practicing in Demopolis for two weeks, and conversations are ongoing with a family practice physician and a pediatrician.

A second certified registered nurse anesthetist has led to the highest stream of outpatient surgeries yet, he continued.

Also working out well are three new psychiatrists working with the Geri-Psych Clinic.

Until the arrival of Drs. John Dorsey, Antonowsky Coleman and John Jeans, said Marshall, the in-patient unit for older psychiatric patients was &8220;one of the programs most disappointing in this past year.&8221;

He said the new CT scan is operational, and the administration is looking into adding another endoscopy suite and an ultrasound upgrade.

Marshall said the $400,000 grant that he hospital recently received led to setting up the Grants, Research and Outreach division of the hospital, to be known as GROWest Alabama.

Marcia Lankster, who has directed the outreach program as well as being the grant writer for the hospital and the director of nurses, is assigned to GROWest Alabama. Applications are being taken now for the director of nursing.

The outcome of two law suits involving hospital finances should be determined in the near future.

The first involves some $750,000 the hospital was required to pay when the company formerly handling the insurance ceased business. The trial date is set for January 7, and Marshall expects a settlement before then between Coastal Insurance and the hospitals it served.

The second is a class action suit against HillRom going back to 1992 and exceeding $1 million for the local hospital. The suit claims HillRom &8220;misrepresented functionality and life expectancy&8221; of the beds it sold the hospital, said Arthur Evans, chief financial officer.