Erlanger Health System reported a $1.7 million loss for July, but CEO Charlsetta Woodard-Thompson said she sees some bright spots.
She gave this report to employees:
"Due to the lack of agenda items, there was no monthly Budget and Finance Committee meeting today. However, I know you are interested in our financial performance the first month of our fiscal year.
"Erlanger reported a loss of $1.7 million in July, but there were many developments that need to be recognized and explained. Our commercial utilization was 8.8% over June, and we fully expect to see that number go even higher this month.
"We were below budget per admission in our supplies and drug expenses, and I want to commend everyone for doing an outstanding job controlling these costs.
"Plaza Surgery, now fully owned by Erlanger, posted its highest outpatient surgical case volume in July. The Plaza Surgery outpatient case volume went from 229 in March, 258 in April, 289 in May, to 296 in June – and last month, we performed a record 310 outpatient surgery cases! Although outpatient surgeries were slightly under budget in July, we have every reason to believe our July numbers reflected a local and nationwide trend due to the large of number of vacationing families and physicians, as well as record-breaking temperatures throughout the South, which curtailed outdoor activity.
"Surgical services; right case, right area
"Our surgical inpatient volume was 13.3% below budget in July. Although this was disappointing, it was also an indication that our surgical scheduling strategy of treating “the right case, right area” is starting to play out. Erlanger’s goal, in acquiring Plaza Surgery, was to shift more of our outpatient elective and predictable surgery cases from the Baroness OR to Plaza Surgery. This is what happened in July. Longer, more unpredictable surgeries continued to be scheduled in Baroness OR – where the depth of our surgical resources preside. Shorter, outpatient elective surgeries were shifted from the Baroness OR to Plaza Surgery, a more predictable environment. Although inpatient surgical cases were down in the Baroness OR, surgical minutes (cases) were longer, signifying a more appropriate mix of patients at each location.
"One of our key initiatives this year was to improve our surgical mix of patients. Six months ago, Erlanger’s surgical mix was 28.7%; in March, 29%, and in April and May, 30%. In July it jumped to 31% and, based on current reports, we hope to see an improved surgical mix this month and throughout this fiscal year.
"I also think it is vitally important everyone know that Erlanger continues to care for the lion’s share of the underserved in our community. While other hospitals are recording significant profits, the Erlanger Health System gave back $7.3 million in uncompensated care to this community in July - among the largest monthly contributions in our history.
"Based on current reports and upward trends, I have every reason to believe Erlanger is making even greater strides and look forward to reporting our August numbers.
"Meanwhile, I encourage you to remain “Erlanger Proud” and know thatChattanooga’s number one hospital, where “others send their toughest cases,” hasChattanooga’s number one employees - and I thank you for your continued commitment and hard work."