published Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

Erlanger narrows losses for fiscal year

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After racking up more than $17 million in losses through the first 10 months of its fiscal year, Erlanger Health System recovered with two solid months to end with a $9.5 million loss for 2012.

The public hospital also saw a positive month in August with a $2 million profit, largely due to strong outpatient surgery numbers.

The hospital had a profit of $5.4 million in fiscal year 2011.

Britt Tabor, Erlanger's chief financial officer, provided both the year-end audited financial statement and August financial numbers to the board's financial committee on Monday evening.

The audited statement marked the end of a rocky year for the city's only public hospital and level one trauma center, including drops in surgery numbers last fall and the departure of CEO Jim Brexler in December. A management team put in place after Brexler left implemented layoffs and restructuring.

Interim CEO Charlesetta Woodard-Thompson told board members that most of the changes implemented so far were put in place by the management team. Suggestions from the consulting team will be utilized later this year and will likely bring results by the end of the calendar year, she said.

The hospital was able to recover some of its earlier losses due to Medicare adjustments, staff reductions and a strong financial report from June, Tabor said.

Because of the improved numbers, the hospital was out of compliance with only one debt covenant -- requiring it to hire an outside consultant. Erlanger officials already had taken that step earlier in the year, Tabor noted.

The hospital is on much firmer financial footing with a trend of decreased expenses and increased outpatient revenues seen in the August report and September projections, Tabor told committee members.

"It's very positive," he said.

The hospital also increased the number of patients covered by commercial insurance rather than TennCare or Medicare, at 36 percent for the month of August.

In other business, the committee members approved several large capital purchases to improve the hospital's operating suites.

One approved resolution provides $900,000 to renovate and relocate the hospital's medical library and to digitize some of its library files. The library will be moved across the street to the Whitehall Medical Building, and the space were it is now will be renovated for a waiting room and operating space.

Contact staff writer Mariann Martin at mmartin@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6324.

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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