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WRH endorses YMCA proposal

WORTHINGTON -- The Worthington Regional Hospital Board of Trustees agreed Monday to a proposal that would secure naming rights for the wellness center at a new Worthington Area YMCA facility. The YMCA building project is currently in its capital campaign phase, and WRH had been broached about securing the naming rights for a $300,000 donation.

A committee composed of WRH board members Gary Hoffmann, Steve Robinson, Grant Sorenson and WRH Chief Executive Officer Mel Platt developed the following proposal that was well received by YMCA representatives and was endorsed by the WRH trustees at their Monday meeting:

l WRH would contribute $60,000 a year for five years, with the first payment to be made when the ground work starts for the new YMCA building.

l The current contract for services paid by WRH to the YMCA would be waived for the five years following the completion of the new building. The current amount paid is approximately $8,000 to $10,000 per year, which includes space rental and half the salary of a trainer.

l In the interior planning of the YMCA facility, 250 square feet would be provided for a satellite therapy department for WRH, with 100 square feet for an office and 150 square feet for a private treatment area.

l Upon completion of the five-year rent waiver, the YMCA and WRH will negotiate new contracts for the use of the facilities.

"The thing to consider is that this isn't really a donation. It's an investment in the community," which is part of the hospital's mission, emphasized Platt. "We're not buying anything. We're not making an outright commitment or gift. We're investing in the Y."

"I look at it as a marketing tool for the hospital," Sorenson added.

Platt also advised the board that a legal opinion was sought regarding the ability of a public facility to make an investment in another facility, and he was told that it was indeed legal as long as certain criteria were met.

During the finance committee portion of the meeting, WRH Director of Finance Bruce Viessman presented the initial budget presentation for 2007. Among the challenges he outlined were: payment shortfalls for Medicare, Medicaid and other third-party payer sources; the rising cost of technology; increased use of charity care and bad debt; regulatory burdens; competition/market share, including the shortage of specialists, decrease in inpatient volume and increase in outpatient volume; a more demanding and informed customer base with escalating expectations; and ensuring high quality of care while maintaining profitable operations.

Viessman noted that the radiation oncology center, which is currently under construction, has not yet been added into the picture. But he also did not foresee an opportunity to predict an increase in volume in any of WRH's existing departments, and additional revenue must be found to offset increased expenses in areas such as wages and benefits. Health insurance alone is projected to increase 32 percent for 2007. The full budget proposal is scheduled for the November board meeting.

Viessman also gave an overview of WRH's current financial picture through September. Because Medicare did not pay any claims for the last two weeks of September in order for the federal government to balance its budget for the fiscal year, WRH's cash and accounts receivable took a major hit. Cash decreased by $388,983.83, and accounts receivable increased by $730,531.

Total patient revenue for September exceeded budget by $44,450 (2 percent). As in past months, inpatient revenue was under budget by $377,640.47, while outpatient, behavioral health and swing bed revenues were above budget by $433,090. Expenses were $53,4076 below budget. Income from operations for the month was $74,221.

Due to reductions to gross revenue from contractual allowances being well above budget, income from operations for the year is $361,996, compared to a budget of $680,868.

In other business, the board was informed of the resignation of member Jason Turner, effective at the end of the year. Turner cited increased business and personal obligations in his letter to the board.

Platt informed the board that a contract had been offered to a radiation oncologist, Thomas Hegarty, who currently practices in Paradise, Calif. If all the contractual arrangements are finalized, Hegarty will begin practice in Worthington on Feb. 1, 2007, and will be employed by the Sioux Valley Clinic organization.

Beth Rickers

Beth Rickers is the veteran in the newspaper staff with 25 years as the Daily Globe's Features Editor. Interests include cooking, traveling and beer tasting and making with her home-brewing husband, Bryan. She writes an Area Voices blog called Lagniappe, which is a Creole term that means "a little something extra." It can be found at http://lagniappe.areavoices.com/.  

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