published Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

Erlanger starts its fiscal year in the red

Erlanger hospital in Chattanooga
Erlanger hospital in Chattanooga
Photo by Ashlee Culverhouse.
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2011 fiscal year

• July: $1.3 million loss

• August: $1.5 million profit

• September: $1.3 million loss

• October: $2.1 million loss

• November: $3.2 million loss

• December: $3.9 million loss

• January: $2.1 million loss

• February: $600,000 loss

• March: $4.1 million loss

• April: $700,000 loss

• May: $2.6 million profit

• June not available

2012 fiscal year

• July 2012 $1.8 million loss

Source: Erlanger Health System financial reports

Erlanger Health System, which has struggled to improve its surgical volume over the last six months, had another disappointing month in July, with both inpatient and outpatient surgeries below budget.

However, the public hospital improved its surgical mix -- the percentage of revenue coming from surgeries. Six months ago, under 29 percent of hospital revenue came from surgeries, but in July, 31 percent of revenue was from surgeries.

The hospital chalked up nearly $1.8 million in losses in July, the first month of the fiscal year, according to financial reports released Monday.

The hospital had losses nearly every month last year. Final figures for the fiscal year that ended June 30 will not be released until September, but the hospital had lost about $15 million through the end of May.

Last fall, doctors at Erlanger moved lucrative surgeries to other hospitals. Hospital executives have said their goal is to woo them back.

In an internal memo to employees Monday, interim CEO Charlesetta Woodard-Thompson acknowledged the July results, but said the hospital has made significant improvements.

"One of our key initiatives this year was to improve our surgical mix of patients," she wrote. "Based on current reports and upward trends, I have every reason to believe Erlanger is making even greater strides and look forward to reporting our August numbers."

The hospital's finance committee and board will not hold August meetings.

Erlanger's July results in most categories, including outpatient visits, emergency room visits, and helicopter transport patients, were below budget and below July 2011 figures, according to the monthly financial report.

Costs per admission were above budget and net patient revenue was below budget, the report shows.

The hospital treated more commercially insured patients last month. That number was more than 8 percent above budget and an increase of more than 14 percent over the same period last year.

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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