Although COVID-19 has made its impact on Alomere Health financially, the county-owned hospital is doing OK.
“Alomere Health is doing well financially in relation to our peer group of health care systems,” said Nate Meyer, chief financial officer at Alomere Health. “It would be fair to say that health systems across the country are feeling adverse financial effects from a global pandemic and those financials would not be favorable in a ‘normal’ operating year.”
Meyer provided a financial update at the hospital’s regular board meeting Friday, Dec. 11.
He said the year started out favorable for Alomere Health for its net patient revenue when compared to last year, but that it then started to decline starting in March.
January and February saw an increase – 5.2% in January and 7.3% in February, but then March saw a decrease of more than 18% and April saw the largest decrease at more than 56%. June picked back up and there was once again an increase – 2.3%. But then net patient revenues dropped again in July and August. They picked back up again in September and then were down again in October, November and so far in December.
For all of last year, patient net revenues came in at about $167 million, whereas this year, they are projected to come in at $146 million, which is an overall decrease of $20.1 million or 12.5%, according to Meyer.
He said that traditionally, October is a busy month, but this year, October was down more than 15%. The reason, he said, is because the hospital has had nearly 400 fewer surgical cases than it did last year in October and November. There was a decrease of 152 cases in October (17.6%) and 246 in November (29.7%).
The hospital has had to reduce the number of elective surgeries because the nurses who work in the surgery center have been needed for COVID patients, Meyer said.
Based on the top seven months from 2020 in regard to net patient revenue and using that as a guide for 2021 projections, Alomere will have to see revenue increases of $6.7 million in order to meet 2021 budget projections. That is an increase of 4.1%, Meyer said.
The hospital’s net patient service revenue budget has been set at about $168.3 million with the total operating revenue at about $175.2 million and total operating expenses at about $175.8 million.
The hospital is trying to manage its finances through a pandemic, which Meyer said is hard to budget for and the hospital is doing its best.
He said hospital administration were expecting to see an increase in ER visits, but they haven’t. In fact, he said they are down about 7.2%.
Alomere Health CEO Carl Vaagenes said it is likely because when the coronavirus hit, the message was to only go to the hospital if absolutely necessary. The message has since changed and Vaagenes said the public needs to know that the hospital is the safest place in the community. He said patients are safe to go to the hospital when they need to as the hospital and its staff takes every precaution possible to ensure patient safety.
“We are safe,” he stressed.
A positive to come out of the financial report from Meyer is that the operating income as a whole is still in the positive and that the cash flow as an organization is doing well.
The hospital finance committee, under the direction of Meyer, is keeping an eye on the hospital’s finances and is hopeful that the next fiscal year will be better.
Alomere Health does have cash reserves earmarked for replacement of equipment and buildings, as well as earmarked for new technology, he said. Over the past 10 years, Meyer said the expenditures have ranged anywhere from $4 million to $20 million per year. The hospital uses both debt and cash reserves for these expenditures.
Meyer also said that all capital expenditures unrelated to patient safety items were frozen in the 2nd quarter of 2020 in order to fund operations at a time when revenues dipped as much as 56%.