Losses begin to slow at Erlanger Hutcheson

Losses begin to slow at Erlanger Hutcheson

March 1st, 2012 by Mariann Martin in News

People exit Erlanger at Hutcheson in Fort Oglethorpe, Ga., in this file photo.

Photo by Ashlee Culverhouse/Times Free Press.

FORT OGLETHORPE - Erlanger at Hutcheson lost nearly $1 million in January, but overall losses at the North Georgia hospital have slowed since last fall.

Financial numbers showing the hospital had budgeted for a $580,000 loss compared to an actual $982,000 loss were presented to the hospital board during its monthly meeting Wednesday evening.

The hospital has lost $4.2 million since the beginning of its fiscal year in October. Both Hutcheson and Erlanger Health System, which manages Hutcheson, have struggled to return to financial viability after deep losses.

The slow but steady improvement in numbers comes less than a week after new CEO Roger Forgey announced the hospital would cut less than 5 percent of its 825-member staff over next 60 days to trim costs and "right-size" the hospital.

Forgey told the board during the meeting that he sees signs the hospital's budget numbers are improving.

Patient numbers improved slightly in December and January and births exceeded budget. However, total surgery numbers were still only about half the budgeted number in January.

Board member David Ashburn noted fewer emergency room visits were due in part to a double homicide at the hospital in January, which may have discouraged visits for several weeks.

The board also added another member to their executive committee during the meeting, increasing it to five.

The executive committee inow comprises the CEO, board chairman, vice chairman and treasurer.

Board Chairman Corky Jewell said, with only four members, the committee occasionally found it difficult to have a quorum for meetings.

The board voted unanimously to create another vice chairman position, with board member Bill Cohen serving in that role.