The new leadership at the Gov. Juan Luis Hospital launched fiscal year 2016 on a positive financial note and reported to the board Tuesday night improved operations in anticipation of a review by the U.S. Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
The hospital is still facing a $52 million deficit for the year.
Although operating revenue was off 14 percent and expenses were almost three percent over budget, the hospital gained $350,220 last month, according to Tim Lessing, chief financial officer. It is the fourth month with a positive operational performance, he added. The bottom line included almost $2.4 million in appropriations from the V.I. government.
“I’m comfortable with the first month coming out of the gate – that we are in line with revenues,” Lessing said. October is the first month in JFL’s fiscal year that ended Sept. 30.
The write-off amount for uncompensated care for October was 60 cents on the dollar and Lessing said the number should improve to 57 or 58 cents by the end of the year as collections and billing procedures improve.
The hospital is current on payments to the Government Employees Retirement System, Philip Arcidi, board treasurer, reported. Finances will improve as more patients are admitted on the presumptive eligibility program to capture insurance payments for services and the board will meet January 2 to deal with the $52 million deficit.
Operationally, the hospital has hired several physicians and provided additional training for staff last month, according to Ken Oranefo Okolo, acting chief executive officer. Okolo was appointed Nov. 3 to replace outgoing CEO Dr. Kendall Griffith. Okolo served as chief operating officer from January 2015.
Privileges and contracts have been extended to physicians in the areas of ophthalmology, anesthesia, orthopedics, internal medicine, general surgery, emergency medicine and OB/GYN, Okolo reported. More staff is needed and internal shifting of positions has provided upward mobility for some employees, he added.
Once again, Okolo reported no progress has been made on construction of the long-awaited inpatient behavioral unit. As reported at previous meetings, three companies have been approved to submit proposals. However, according to the CEO, since the hospital has only $1 million reserved and the project will cost $2 million, “construction may not start.” The hospital’s psychiatric unit was shut in 2012 and no options have been available for patients needing hospitalization since then.
Other education for hospital staff included phlebotomy and EKG training for certified medical assistants and almost 50 staff members participated in teamwork training this month. The program, TeamSTEPPS, teaches employees how to improve patient care through better communications and teamwork. The training will continue through the first quarter of 2016.
Okolo said although there has been no communication with CMS regarding the Dec. 31 extension but he expects a visit any day. First Griffith and now Okolo say they are confident the hospital will retain certification and continue to receive reimbursements for Medicare and Medicaid patient care.
“The hospital continues to monitor the sustainability of the implemented SIA initiatives and compliance with CMS conditions of participation,” Okolo said. “Management’s objective is to ensure that these work plans are aligned with the strategic goals outlined in the hospital’s strategic plan.”
After approving medical appointments and contracts, the board adjourned into executive session and discussed legal matters, hospital operations during the Thanksgiving holiday and a resolution regarding certifying officers, according to Troy de Chabert-Schuster, board chairman. Out of executive session, the board voted to allow the CEO, CFO, de Chabert-Schuster, Vera Falu, board vice chair and Michael Younger, assistant chief financial officer to authorize expenditures up to $100,000. Board approval will be necessary for higher amounts.
Board members attending the meeting were de Chabert-Schuster, Falu, and Arcidi, Kimberly Jones and Joyce Heyliger through audio conference.