published Thursday, April 19th, 2012

Losses mount at Hutcheson

People exit Erlanger at Hutcheson in Fort Oglethorpe, Ga., in this file photo.
People exit Erlanger at Hutcheson in Fort Oglethorpe, Ga., in this file photo.
Photo by Ashlee Culverhouse.

BY THE NUMBERS

Erlanger at Hutcheson losses

• $888,960: May

• $1,100,000: June

• $1,854,553: July

• $1,797,162: August

• $2,653,937: September

• $1,619,602: October

• $1,081,867: November

• $894,354: December

• $982,953: January

• $1,083,383: February

• $1,767,773: March

Source: Erlanger at Hutcheson

FORT OGLETHORPE — After several months of improving finances, Erlanger at Hutcheson lost nearly $1.8 million in March, its worst numbers since September.

The Georgia hospital had budgeted to lose $350,000 in March. It has lost nearly $15 million since Erlanger Health System took over its management at the end of May.

The public hospital, governed by Catoosa, Walker and Dade counties, has used $9.9 million of a $20 million line of credit from Erlanger. The line of credit is backed up by Hutcheson's mortgage and two $10 million pledges by Catoosa and Walker counties.

During a finance committee meeting Wednesday, Hutcheson Controller Denise Baker told hospital trustees that the losses were because of a large number of nonpaying patients. In March, the hospital saw the highest percentage of uninsured patients since May 2011.

"It was a very difficult month," Baker said.

According to numbers provided by Baker, Hutcheson had an average of 23 patients a day in March, compared to 38 in March 2011. Total surgeries also were down significantly compared to a year ago.

Committee members voted to accept the financial numbers with little discussion, noting that the hospital cut expenses and came in below budget on salaries and other expenses.

CEO Roger Forgey said in an emailed statement that Hutcheson is focused on providing quality care for patients and a stable hospital for the employees, physicians and the community.

"During the anticipated 24-month transition period, Hutcheson's leadership team has concentrated on rebuilding its physician base and effectively managing costs," he said. "We need the support of North Georgia residents and physicians with referrals and admissions."

The hospitals' agreement calls for a significant investment in doctors, facilities and other medical services from Erlanger.

Before the management deal with Erlanger, Hutcheson defaulted on a $35 million bond issue and was losing about $1 million a month.

about Mariann Martin...

Mariann Martin covers healthcare in Chattanooga and the surrounding region. She joined the Times Free Press in February 2011, after covering crime and courts for the Jackson (Tenn.) Sun for two years. Mariann was born in Indiana, but grew up in Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Belize. She graduated from Union University in 2005 with degrees in English and history and has master’s degrees in international relations and history from the University of Toronto. While attending Union, ...

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