While Schneider Regional Medical Center’s financial picture is improving, hospital staff said at a recent district board meeting they are still trying to cut costs.
Hospital expenses still outpace revenues by about $8.7 million, but the first nine months of last fiscal year showed an $11 million deficit, according to Eugene Walsh, Schneider’s interim chief financial officer. During the meeting, Walsh said the hospital’s cash flow was bumped up a bit by payments from third parties such as CIGNA and Medicare, and SRMC interim head Elizabeth Harris added that the staff is still implementing and putting together "cost-containment measures," including re-negotiating procurement contracts, moving contracted employees into permanent staff positions and reducing overtime.
Hospital board chairman Cornel Williams suggested board members should begin fundraising throughout the community to bring in funds needed to replace several of SRMC’s dialysis units, used to treat patients with kidney failure. The issue was also raised during last month’s board meeting by Blondell Williams, hospital vice president of nursing and patient care services, who said that 12 out of the 16 machines have exceeded their life expectancy and need to be replaced by the end of the year.
A proposal submitted by the hospital’s current supplier puts the cost of each unit at $20,000. Board members were told during this month’s meeting that the hemodialysis unit, which is running two treatment shifts, is operating at capacity, according to a hospital press release.
Meanwhile, the hospital has also been working toward three more years of accreditation. SRMC received a visit two weeks ago from a Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations team that conducted a survey on operations at SRMC, the Charlotte Kimelman Cancer Institute and the Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center on St. John. The Joint Commission will formally release the results in few days, but preliminary findings show only four requests for improvement, Harris said.
During the recent board meeting, hospital staff also reported:
- the Kimelman Cancer Institute is operating below capacity and efforts are being made to extend service to the wider Caribbean region, including sending a team of experts to make a presentation to the minister of health in St. Kitts and Nevis, which could result in an agreement for the islands’ cancer patients;
- preparations for the start of telemedicine services for patients at Myrah Keating Smith are almost complete, with actual services – allowing physicians at the Cleveland Clinic in Florida to consult and collaborate on cases through video and audio technology – beginning next month; and
- the hospital will begin to contract for radiology services that give physicians on the mainland access to x-rays and CT scans when a local radiologist is not available.