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Massena Hospital posts back-to-back losses

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MASSENA - The emergency room at Massena Memorial Hospital treated approximately one less patient per day in May than in January.

The drop is unnoticeable for hospital staff, who treat between 50 and 70 patients a day in the ER, CEO Charles F. Fahd II said. But that daily decrease means 30 to 50 less patients per month, and $300,000 to $500,000 less in profit.

“It’s a difficult problem to solve because it’s so small on a daily basis,” Mr. Fahd said.

That problem contributed to a $572,645 loss for May, an increase from April’s loss of $479,662. The hospital has a year-to-date loss of $1,161,408.

The number of ER visits was 1,582, down from the budgeted amount of 1,697 and a decrease of over 150 from last May’s total of 1,740. The inpatient discharges totaled 205, off 26.79 percent from last May’s total of 280.

Mr. Fahd speculated on the causes for the patient drop, but he said MMH needs to better understand the reasons for the lower numbers, he said.

“Are we losing patients to other facilities?” he asked the hospital’s board of managers.

The hospital’s administration has been meeting nearly every day to discuss the drop and potential ways to address it.

“We are looking at different measures for expense reduction and bumping our revenues up,” CFO Sean Curtin said.

Both Mr. Curtin and Mr. Fahd declined to comment on any specific expense reductions being considered.

After a difficult 2010, MMH completed a belt-tightening in the winter of 2011, which led to the elimination of 10 full-time-equivalent positions. Those resulted in hours being reduced for one full-time nurse and part-time employees in the hospital’s pharmacy, lab, housekeeping, endoscopy, finance and dietary sectors, according to Jonnie J. Dorothy, senior director of human resources at MMH.

No employees were laid off as a result of the restructuring.

This time around, Mr. Fahd said everything was still on the table.

“We are considering all of our options,” Mr. Fahd said. “We need to do something about the $500,000 losses we’ve had in April and May. That can’t continue.”

MMH has had lower than expected patient visits for the last three months, Mr. Curtin said.

“If we have less discharges, we need to adjust our work patterns,” he said.

Mr. Fahd said resolving some staffing issues at the ER may help solve the lower numbers there. Spokeswoman Tina R. Corcoran said the physician group MMH contracts with for the ER recently had some turnover, but she expected it to return to full staffing later this summer.

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