Leader Blues

Thursday, January 24, 2008

TOP STORY >> Hospital cuts losses, improves its outlook

By RAY BENTON
Leader managing editor

North Metro Medical Center, recently renamed after five decades as Rebsamen Medical Center, is beginning to take steps toward profit, at least that’s the projection for 2008. The hospital reported a loss of $3 million in 2007 against annual operating costs of $46.9 million, but believes it will cut that loss in half this year.

One of the main reasons for the loss is the amount of charity care the hospital provides. Last year Rebsamen Medical Center provided $8.2 million of uncompensated care.

“The loss of $3 million last year was largely in part to our $8.2 million service to the community in uncompensated care,” North Metro Medical Center spokesperson Kristen James said. “With the new strategic plan, the administrative team forecasts a loss of half that for the next fiscal year.”

The name change became official on Jan. 14, and was the last step of phase one of renovations and improvements for the facility.

The facility upgrades over the past two years of phase one have included a new mammography suite and renovations of the surgery suite and all of the public waiting areas. There is also a new doctor’s lounge and dictation area.

Phase two begins in the spring with groundbreaking for a new 1,000-square-foot emergency room. Already one of the few hospitals in the area with private patient rooms, all 40 of those will also undergo renovation upgrades. There will also be a new nurses station.

Equipment is now better as well. Some of the state-of-the-art technology now on hand at North Metro includes a 40-slice CT scanner, a Philips Ultrasound and the Depuy total knee replacement instrument.

Hospital administrators believe with the upgrades and increased ability to better care for the community, that patient count will rise.

“People have just started to hear about (the changes) in the last few days,” James said. “We think when the word gets out and people are able to see how we’ve improved, we’ll see more people coming to us for care.”

The hospital admitted 3,318 patients last year and handled 21,609 emergency room visits. It had 42,942 outpatient visits.
James said charity care has risen each year over the past few years, but all the recent changes signal that North Metro is committed to better serving the area.

“At a $46.9 million annual operating cost, and a rising underinsured population, North Metro is doing all we can to provide care for everyone in our community and still put money back into new technology and facility improvements,” James said. “We feel we are making strides in the right direction.”