published Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

Erlanger Health System ends January in black

 Chattanooga's Erlanger Hospital is seen in this aerial file photo.
Chattanooga's Erlanger Hospital is seen in this aerial file photo.
Photo by Doug Strickland /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

CLOSED MEETING

Before Monday's Budget and Finance meeting, the Erlanger board of trustees convened for a closed meeting.

Erlanger Health System ended January on solid financial footing, posting over a half-million dollars in profits for the month.

The public hospital bounced back from a December in the red and is continuing to recover from last year's rocky financial performance.

At this time last fiscal year, the hospital was down more than $12 million. This year, the hospital has tightened that number to just under $2 million.

"We're about $10 million dramatically ahead of where we were last year, and we're still doing some wonderful work at getting closer to that $4.5 million number that we have budgeted," Britt Tabor, the hospital's chief financial officer, told the hospital's Budget and Finance Committee on Monday night.

In January, the hospital posted a profit of $541,232. Tabor attributed the positive month to an array of factors -- with physician practice outpatient visits, inpatient heart surgeries and cath lab procedures over budget, along with decreases in staffing and supplies costs and less bad debt and charity care than budgeted for.

Admissions were only slightly under budget for the month (1.7 percent) but exceeded the previous year by 6.7 percent.

Seven months into the fiscal year, Erlanger has provided more than $45 million in uncompensated care.

Despite the January gains, interim CEO Charlesetta Woodard-Thompson warned that February's financial reports were "not looking good at all."

When trustee Russell King asked Woodard-Thompson why this month's numbers were looking grim, she hinted that a factor could be the publicity from the controversy surrounding the board's decision to appoint a new CEO before the state Legislature passed a bill that would overhaul the board's structure.

"I think the more we're in the newspaper, the more unstable we are," she said. "And the more we cannot assure our docs of what's going on, they take their volume elsewhere."

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