published Thursday, March 1st, 2012

Losses begin to slow at Erlanger Hutcheson

FORT OGLETHORPE — Erlanger at Hutcheson lost nearly $1 million in January, but overall losses at the North Georgia hospital have slowed since last fall.

Financial numbers showing the hospital had budgeted for a $580,000 loss compared to an actual $982,000 loss were presented to the hospital board during its monthly meeting Wednesday evening.

The hospital has lost $4.2 million since the beginning of its fiscal year in October. Both Hutcheson and Erlanger Health System, which manages Hutcheson, have struggled to return to financial viability after deep losses.

The slow but steady improvement in numbers comes less than a week after new CEO Roger Forgey announced the hospital would cut less than 5 percent of its 825-member staff over next 60 days to trim costs and “right-size” the hospital.

Forgey told the board during the meeting that he sees signs the hospital’s budget numbers are improving.

Patient numbers improved slightly in December and January and births exceeded budget. However, total surgery numbers were still only about half the budgeted number in January.

Board member David Ashburn noted fewer emergency room visits were due in part to a double homicide at the hospital in January, which may have discouraged visits for several weeks.

The board also added another member to their executive committee during the meeting, increasing it to five.

The executive committee inow comprises the CEO, board chairman, vice chairman and treasurer.

Board Chairman Corky Jewell said, with only four members, the committee occasionally found it difficult to have a quorum for meetings.

The board voted unanimously to create another vice chairman position, with board member Bill Cohen serving in that role.

about Mariann Martin...

Mariann Martin covers healthcare in Chattanooga and the surrounding region. She joined the Times Free Press in February 2011, after covering crime and courts for the Jackson (Tenn.) Sun for two years. Mariann was born in Indiana, but grew up in Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Belize. She graduated from Union University in 2005 with degrees in English and history and has master’s degrees in international relations and history from the University of Toronto. While attending Union, ...

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