|Tue, Sep 23, 2014 02:37 PM
|Issue of September 17, 2014
May 14, 2014 | 09:54 AM
The Harrison County Council and board of commissioners received an update late last month from representatives of Harrison County Hospital during a joint meeting before the council's regularly scheduled meeting.
The council requested an update from HCH since the county gave the hospital $8 million to help relieve debt in 2011.
"We certainly appreciate that, and I feel like we put it to good use," Steve Taylor, CEO of HCH, said during the April 28 meeting.
The main reason the hospital came to the county for help was the skyrocketing level of indigent care, which is charity care or bad debt. From the hospital's opening in 1950 to 2002, it incurred $2 million worth of indigent care when patients were unable to pay for services. Between 2002 and 2013, the hospital had more than $10 million worth of indigent care.
Now, the hospital is on strong financial footing with $15 million in cash after 2013 generated a positive cash-flow amount of $4 million, which is quite strong for a critical-access hospital.
"Fifteen (million dollars) is very healthy," Taylor said.
He said they've incurred no additional debt (total debt now is $8.5 million) since the opening of the facility off Corydon-Ramsey Road.
Taylor said the "new" hospital is now six years old and some of the original equipment may need to be replaced soon.
It has an annual expense budget of $45 million to $46 million and generates $90 million in local economic activity.
"That's pretty significant," Taylor said.
It currently employees 550 people with a payroll of $25 million to $26 million.
The hospital registered 115,000 patients in 2013 with the ER and After Hours Care having more than 20,000. Emergency Room patients surveyed have been 96 to 98 percent satisfied with their HCH services.
"We're real pleased with that," Taylor said. "Our marks are very high."
He said the survey has been given out for two or three years now and has a data base of about 17,000 patients.
Harrison County Hospital has continued and expanded its affiliation with Norton to better serve the community by providing as many services as reasonably possible at HCH. For example, the Louisville Oncology cancer care and hematology services program is available full time at HCH in a 5,000-square-foot suite.
"Many folks do not have to leave Corydon to get full service," Taylor said.
The hospital also has telemedicine services where patients can receive consults with Norton sub-specialists, all without leaving HCH, through a $200,000 piece of equipment on a rolling cart.
The hospital representatives spoke about the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, and said no one knows just how it will affect HCH.
Jeff Davis, CFO at HCH, said, with more people insured, the hospital's indigent care costs should go down, but cuts to Medicaid and Medicare could have a negative effect.
"I don't have a crystal ball," Davis said.
Taylor noted that HCH had not laid off any employees while a lot of other hospitals have.
Councilman Phil Smith ended the meeting by asking HCH representatives to make the update an annual affair with the council and commissioners.