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MMH dips below 10,000 outpatient registrations in November

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MASSENA - Massena Memorial Hospital officials say the 9,672 outpatient registrations they had in November is something that hasn’t happened in a while — but not in a good way.

Chief Financial Officer Jim Smith told members of the hospital’s Board of Managers this week that the number is a “significant decline” from the past.

“We’ve dipped below the 10,000 barrier for the first time in a long, long time. I can’t remember how long back since we’ve been at that level,” Mr. Smith said.

For the month, the hospital had 1,158 emergency room visits, 196 ambulatory surgical unit visits and 4,390 other outpatient visits. It also had 2,192 visits to hospital-based clinics, 600 visits to the renal dialysis center, 430 visits to the Kids Korner Pediatric Clinic and 646 visits to the Veteran’s Clinic.

Officials had budgeted 10,587 outpatient registrations for the month, according to Mr. Smith. There were 10,151 outpatient registrations in November 2012.

He said the hospital also had 187 inpatient discharges, but had budgeted 194, leaving it 3.61 percent below budget. Observation visits totaled 67 in November, 31.37 percent higher than the budgeted number of 51.

“Total observation visits continue to outpace the budget by 31 percent,” Mr. Smith said.

All together, the hospital had a net patient revenue of $2,791,800, which was 26.5 percent below the budgeted $3,798,588. The November 2012 net patient revenue was $3,286,466.

“All of that translates to a net patient revenue that was approximately $1 million below budget,” he said.

Total operating revenue for November was $3,375,835, or 16.31 percent below their $4,033,734 budget for the month. The total loss from operations was $766,915.

“It’s a very sizeable loss from operations,” Mr. Smith said.

The hospital’s total loss for the month was $798,417, bringing their total year-to-date losses to $2,722,189. They had a yearly loss of $1,771,590 at the same point in time in 2012.

“For the year we’re $2.7 million in losses, most of which is coming from the patient revenue side,” he said.

Board members agreed to write off $931,382.34 for bad debt in November, bringing their year-to-date total to $3,369,532.53.

“We write off an average in the neighborhood of $3.2 million a year, between $3.2 and $3.4 (million). Dividing that by 12 would be an average of $260,270 a month,” Mr. Smith said.

Looking at next year’s budget, board member David M. MacLennan wondered if they would based their observation visits on this year’s performance.

“What we did with inpatient volume, we left inpatient volume fairly flat with the exception of obstetrics. We cut some money out of obstetrics because of Dr. (Tae Sik) Choi’s pending retirement, and we left the rest of the inpatient volume flat and observation cases flat,” Mr. Smith said, noting they didn’t anticipate observation cases “going much higher” in 2014.

Board member Darrell P. Paquin said they needed to consider this year’s numbers when crafting their spending plan. He noted they had a yearly loss in operations of $1.8 million in November 2012, and that number was $2.6 million so far this year.

“It would be unrealistic for us to expect anything to change going in next year. Frankly, I don’t see significant increases in revenue,” he said, wondering what changes were planned by the Finance Committee to address the deficits.

“We’re looking at all of our services,” Finance Committee member Tina Buckley said, noting they would be “making tough choices in the future.

“Obviously something has to change here. We can talk about a few observation visits here and there, but that’s not what’s causing this. We have significant other problems here. I hope we’re going to address that,” Mr. Paquin said.

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