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Conger: ‘Optimistic’ about PMH

PRINCETON — Perry Memorial Hospital in Princeton remains strong, in spite of some challenging financial times, according to hospital officials.

The Princeton City Council recently heard from Perry Memorial Hospital President Rex Conger and Chief Financial Officer Tricia Ellison who talked about the hospital’s annual report and audit.

In her presentation, Ellison said the hospital experienced gross patient service revenue of $69.7 million for Fiscal Year 2013, which is a 4 percent decrease from Fiscal Year 2012.  Of that $69.7 million in gross patient service revenue, the hospital had $35.8 million in write-offs for the 2013 fiscal year.

Further detailing the write-offs, Ellison said the hospital had contractual adjustments, which is the difference between the hospital charges for its services and what is actually received by private insurances, Medicare and Medicaid. The hospital also provided $1.6 million in financial assistance to patients for FY ‘13, which is about $100,000 less than last year. Bad debts for people who don’t pay for the services received amounted to $1.4 million, which is an increase of $505,000 over FY ‘12, the CFO said.

Expenses for the hospital increased by 1 percent from the previous year. Based on FY ‘10 and FY ‘11 numbers, employee raises were not budgeted in FY ‘12 but were budgeted in FY ‘13. However, employee raises were not budgeted in FY ‘14, she said.

Looking ahead, Elison said changes have been made to improve the hospital’s experience from last year. Those changes include requesting payment from patients prior to their scheduled services, which is a practice that began about four years ago; educating patients prior to giving services as to the anticipated balance due after the service; and closely monitoring operating expenses and capital expenses.

Also, Ellison said PMH will not see the full effect of healthcare reform until 2015, but the hospital is proactively reviewing how healthcare reform could impact the hospital and taking steps to anticipate those impacts before they are implemented.

The balance sheet remains strong for Perry Memorial Hospital with total assets of $38 million and a total liability decrease by 2 percent, Ellison said.

“Financial indicators and ratios calculated at year-end confirm the hospital continues to maintain a strong financial position,” Ellison said.

In his comments, Conger said statistics from patient surveys show that 96.9 percent of PMH patients say they would recommend Perry Memorial to friends and family, and 97.8 percent of PMH patients say they would return to the hospital for future services.

“This accomplishment is completely attributed to our great medial staff, employees, auxiliary and Gold Coats,” Conger said.

Federal and state legislation in the past few years has been confusing for the public, Conger said, adding the last year has not been very good for PMH or other rural hospitals throughout the state and country.

Conger said the federal Affordable Care Act and the Illinois Smart Act have combined to cut more than $1.1 million in reimbursements this year to the hospital, compared to last year. With that change in reimbursement and the growing financial losses the hospital experienced from the provision of its obstetric services, the decision was made to close the Women’s Health Unit at the end of the year was, which was announced previously.

Health care will continue down its current path with a lot of damage to the system, especially in rural areas, unless something changes in Washington D.C. and Springfield, Conger said.

However, Conger said he is optimistic about the future of Perry Memorial Hospital.

“We have adjusted our budget for FY ‘14 and believe we have plans in place that will address the challenges we are facing, so I continue to be optimistic,” Conger said.

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