Tornadoes factor in Erlanger's April loss

Tornadoes factor in Erlanger's April loss

May 27th, 2011 by Chris Carroll in News

Erlanger Hospital

Erlanger finances

April income: Loss of $800,000

Year-to-date income: Gain of $1.6 million

Last year, year-to-date income: Gain of $1 million

Source: Erlanger Medical System

Erlanger Health System officials this week announced an $800,000 April loss, partially blaming the shortfall on tornadoes that swept through the region and puzzling at least one hospital trustee.

Tornadoes helped redden the bottom line as physician offices closed and patients could not travel to scheduled appointments and surgeries, according to a summary worksheet given to trustees during a Thursday evening meeting.

Trustees also received a three-page account documenting Erlanger's role during the storms.

It reported no major structural damage at any of its five campuses and "minor roof damage" at one physicians' office in Ooltewah.

The worksheet did not indicate the impact Erlanger officials believe tornadoes and thunderstorms had on the hospital's finances. The tornadoes arrived April 27, three days before Erlanger concluded the fiscal month.

President and CEO Jim Brexler addressed the hospital's board of trustees Thursday, but did not talk about the loss.

The board's budget and finance committee - made up of four of Erlanger's nine trustees - met Monday and discussed the latest numbers.

In March, Erlanger gained $1 million.

While no one asked questions during Brexler's presentation, one trustee found the $1.8 million pendulum swing a bit hard to swallow after the meeting.

"It is rather difficult to explain or accept," said Jim Worthington, an Erlanger trustee who's not on the budget and finance committee. "I have no basis not to accept it, but I can well understand why the public is concerned."

Also after the meeting, budget and finance committee Chairman Donnie Hutcherson said he had no reason to distrust Brexler and the financial team at Erlanger.

"The tornadoes are a hot topic ... but they were only mentioned as one factor," Hutcherson said. "The weather did delay some scheduled surgeries, yes. But the big thing was that total surgeries were [lower] than medical visits."

Documents show medical visits also were higher than total surgeries in March, when Erlanger reported the $1 million profit.