published Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

Erlanger showing across-the-board losses for February

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    The Erlanger Baroness campus.
    Photo by Staff File Photo.
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ERLANGER FINANCIALS

Fiscal year 2012

July: $1.8 million loss

Aug.: $2 million profit

Sept.: $906,000 loss

Oct.: $730,000 profit

Nov.: $726,527 profit

Dec.: $1.1 million loss

Jan.: $541,232 profit

Feb.: $2.5 million loss

Source: Erlanger budget documents

When they sat down Monday night, members of Erlanger's Budget and Finance Committee had already braced themselves for the unpleasant PowerPoint presentation full of descending graph lines.

"We set the stage last month that it was not going to be pretty, and I think our expectations have been met," committee Chairman Donnie Hutcherson said.

After climbing back into the black last month, Erlanger Health System fell back in the red in February, posting a $2.5 million loss -- its worst loss this fiscal year.

The hospital's monthly financial results have seesawed between surpluses and deficits this year, and year-to-date the hospital has posted $4.5 million in losses. The hospital must make up $2 million over the next four months to stay within the parameters of its bond covenants, Chief Financial Officer Britt Tabor said Monday night.

Tabor told the committee the losses spanned all of the public hospital's service lines. There were fewer scheduled surgeries, fewer helicopter patients and fewer births.

"Every category was affected," he explained after the meeting. "If it was one service line, I could pinpoint that it was this particular doctor on vacation, or this particular trend that had cropped up. But it was across all service lines."

Overall, Tabor said, there was not one clear reason why numbers were down. Erlanger surveyed other health care providers about patient volumes.

"We did get feedback that a lot of other health systems saw less volume, so hopefully it wasn't just an Erlanger issue," he said, adding that March is showing improvement.

February was a short month with fewer business days, he acknowledged. He said expenses also climbed as the hospital readied to open its new emergency department at Erlanger East in March, paying about half a million dollars in employee orientation and other preparations without netting any revenue during that period.

The hospital still is faring better than it was at this time last fiscal year, when it had lost more than $13 million.

Eight months into the fiscal year, Erlanger has provided more than $53 million in uncompensated care. The hospital provided $5 million in February alone.

Contact staff writer Kate Harrison at kharrison@times freepress.com or 423-757-6673.

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