July income: Loss of $1.3 million
Year-to-date income: Loss of $1.3 million
Last year, year-to-date income: Loss of $1 million
Erlanger Health System finished July with one of its largest financial losses in the last year.
Hospital executives reported a $1.3 million loss at Monday's scheduled budget and finance committee meeting, mostly blaming the seven-figure shortfall on overtime costs and physician summer vacations.
"Health care is seasonal," Chief Financial Officer Britt Tabor said after the meeting. "July's normally a bad month."
Erlanger lost more than $1 million last July.
Other recent loses include $1.2 million in May, which President and CEO Jim Brexler attributed to "not enough babies being born" and training expenses for freshly graduated nurses.
And in April, hospital executives credited tornadoes and more medical visits than surgical visits for an $800,000 loss.
Tornadoes ravaged the Tennessee Valley on April 27 -- 72 hours before Erlanger concluded the 30-day fiscal month -- and medical visits also outnumbered surgeries in March, when Erlanger last announced a monthly profit, records show.
July was first month of the current fiscal year. Erlanger customarily does not release June's balance sheet until an independent firm audits the hospital for the entire previous fiscal year.
Officials attempted to offset the loss with some good news, writing up a news release right before the meeting.
Safety net hospitals across Tennessee, including Erlanger, will get millions of federal dollars to help offset rising costs of treating TennCare enrollees and "the under- and uninsured Tennesseans" the hospital treats, according to the release.
Erlanger will get more than $10 million, hospital spokeswoman Pat Charles said. The money will come in quarterly blocks, with the first payment expected in October.
Trustees briefly questioned top hospital brass seated across the room. Brexler had just finished explaining why the hospital paid for 57,000 overtime hours in July -- 5,000 more than June.
Budget and Finance Committee Chairman Donnie Hutcherson said some members wished "to make sure that $10 million doesn't get used to offset ... inefficiency."
"We've got to get our length-of-[patient]-stay down, staffing costs in line," Brexler replied. "There's a set of tactics that go with that."
Chris Carroll covers federal politics for the Times Free Press. A Chattanooga native, he went to Red Bank High School and graduated with honors from East Tennessee State University. Chris investigated violent crime, municipal government and hospitals before taking the political beat. For tornado coverage, he and Pam Sohn won a first-place Tennessee Associated Press Managing Editors deadline reporting award. In 2010, Chris won the Golden Press Card Award of Merit and another deadline reporting ...