Under the so-called “hard freeze” approved by hospital trustees Tuesday, employees and retirees will receive the benefits already accrued, but no new defined benefits will be accrued after the plan is frozen. No new employees will be added to the plan.(T&D FILE PHOTO)

The Regional Medical Center ended the 2016-17 fiscal year in the black.

"We are pleased to report that the hospital finished up the year in the black like we had anticipated," RMC Finance Committee Chairman Matt Stokes told hospital trustees during the group's monthly board meeting on Oct. 31. "We had a good month in September and it gave us a pretty good year to finish up with."

The hospital alone ended the year $3.038 million in the black, according to its financial statement. The hospital's fiscal year runs from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30.

RMC Chief Financial Officer Liza Porterfield said ending the year in the black was made possible by a $2.4 million positive month of September, which was helped by receiving $4.8 million in disproportionate share monies. DSH is given to hospitals for serving indigent patients.

For the year, the hospital received $14.7 million in DSH monies. This was above budget of about $6.3 million.

The hospital, combined with its eight primary care practices, ended the year $1.2 million in the black, which is about $160,802 less than where the hospital ended last year.

The hospital's primary care practices saw 55,000 visits this fiscal year, compared to 50,000 last year, RMC Vice President Chuck Mewshaw said.

"This is about the equivalent which comes through the ED (emergency department) ," Mewshaw said. "We are going to continue to work with folks in the community to find their patient center medical home."

The patient revenue for the primary care practices improved by $663,000 compared to 2015-16.

Year-end, the improvement in the bottom line of the practices improved to $895,000 with total collections increasing by $562,000 compared to last year's collections, Mewshaw said.

Systemwide, Porterfield said the hospital ended the year with 135 days cash on hand, which is the amount of days the hospital could pay expenses with available cash. Last year, the hospital ended with 125 days cash on hand.

The hospital's year-end operating margin was 0.53 percent, which is up from the end of last year of 0.20 percent. The hospital's total margin was 0.54 percent, which is down from the end of last year at 0.80 percent.

In other matters:

  • Trustees unanimously approved spending $12,950 to replace the floor and to paint at the Santee Healthplex. The floors need to be replaced as a result of flooding sustained during the September's Hurricane Irma. The facility's exam rooms will also be painted.
  • Trustees unanimously approved a purchasing card program with BBVA Compass.

The purchasing card program will enable the hospital to streamline the purchasing and accounts-payable process and reduces administrative costs.

The program will shorten the time frame for vendor payment processing by vendors not having to wait for a check to arrive in the mail.

The program has been used for several years. The vote was to utilize a different bank as a provider.

  • Trustees approved a lockbox service with First Tennessee.

The service will automate data processing and the posting of patient payments and insurance payments rather than the hospital receiving the checks directly and manually entering the data into its accounting software. The service will reduce the collection cycle and increase cash flow while minimizing administrative duties and processing costs.

The process is expected to be seamless to patients as the only change will be a more automated data processing on the back end.

The fee for the service is volume-dependent with the estimated cost to the hospital of $2,500 and $5,000 monthly.

  • Prayer was offered for the family of the late hospital board trustee Dr. Oscar Butler Jr. who passed away Oct. 2. Prayer was also offered for Chairman Seabrooks and his family. Seabrooks' wife passed away in October. Seabrooks thanked trustees for their show of support.

Contact the writer: gzaleski@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5551. Check out Zaleski on Twitter at @ZaleskiTD.


Business Reporter

Gene Zaleski is a reporter/staff writer with The Times and Democrat.

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