05/13/17 — Hospital rates to increase

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Hospital rates to increase

By Steve Herring
Published in News on May 13, 2017 2:31 PM

Wayne Memorial Hospital patients will see a 4 percent rate increase in the 2017-18 fiscal year that begins July 1.

Last year was the first time in three years rates did not increase.

Overall cash collections (net revenues) are expected to increase about 5 percent or approximately $14 million, from $270.7 million this year to $284.1 million in the new budget approved during the hospital board's Wednesday afternoon meeting.

Total expenses are budgeted at $278.1 million, an increase of $16.1 million (6.1 percent) over the current budget of $262 million.

The excess of revenue over expenses of $6 million translates into a 2.1 percent operating margin -- a decrease from the 3.1 percent ($8.7 million) in the current budget

That net cash from operations will be used to keep technology fresh and the building up-to-date, said Becky Craig, chief financial officer at Wayne Memorial Hospital.

Deductions from revenue for the hospital include $22.579 million in bad debt; $32.215 million in charity services; and contractual allowances of $313.482 million for a total of $368.276 million.

"We expect cost increases for drugs and supplies, despite better pricing with UNC contracts, to continue to escalate higher than inflation," Mrs. Craig. "Raising rates slowly over time is the only way to recover those increased costs. Even with rate increase, net contribution from operations is expected to decline from 3.1 percent to 2.1 percent.

"Personnel costs are the largest costs at Wayne UNC and other hospitals. Attracting and keeping great caregivers of all kinds is a key to making Wayne UNC the hospital of choice for all residents of Wayne County. A nurse job fair on May 18 is planned for 4 p.m. at the hospital, a very simple way to find out more about becoming a teammate at Wayne UNC Health Care."

Patient activity is expected to be up slightly in the new fiscal year, as reflected in the budget, Mrs. Craig said.

Hospital admissions are estimated at 10,828, up 2 percent compared to the current year.

That is 30 patients per day. Some are planned following major surgery and many more come through the emergency department, she said.

The projection for emergency room visits in 2017-18 is 67,666, up from 67,565.

That represents about one visit for half of the county's population, said Jim Parker, hospital board chairman.

Cardiac catheterization at Wayne UNC is an area of growth, Mrs. Craig said.

This procedure allows a cardiologist to diagnose disease of the heart muscle, valves or coronary (heart) arteries. Sometimes a mesh coil is places in a narrow portion of the artery to help keep it open, she said.

Wound care, physical therapy, occupational therapy, cardiac rehab and sleep studies continue to grow in response to patient needs, she said.

Major capital projects for the new fiscal year include $48 million to update and replace the operating rooms that were originally built in the 1970s and $7 million to replace air handler units that are more than 40 years old.

A groundbreaking for the surgical unit expansion was held in April.

Other major capital projects planned for fiscal year 2017-18 are:

• Update angiography room (used for special procedures), $1.6 million.

• Complete update of floor coverings throughout the patient tower, $500,000.

• Replace kitchen HVAC, $1 million. "More than 800,000 meals are prepared by our great kitchen team; they need to stay cool," Mrs. Craig said.

• CTs, replace two, $500,000.

• Replace other equipment, including servers, etc. $3 million.