Strong month of April pushes VMH above budgeted year-to-date net income

by Brianne Eilers

The month of April ended with a very strong bottom line for Veterans Memorial Hospital (VMH) in Waukon. While acute and skilled patient days were nearly unchanged from this time last year, deliveries were up 20.8%, which VMH Administrator Mike Myers noted could be a record month.
Outpatient physical therapy was another strong area, up 29.7%. Outpatient revenue was down slightly at 5.4%, but expenses were also down 2.5%. For April 2014, VMH had a net income of $99,501, and year to date the facility is sitting at a profit of $253,932, slightly above the budgeted $252,560.
“April was an excellent month,” Myers noted. VMH also has $2,860,000 in cash reserves. The number of days in Accounts Receivable is up to 83.1, which Myers attributed to higher volumes, work redesign to dedicate more time to coding and billing, and working to implement electronic medical records.
All in all, VMH is sitting at a two percent profit margin, and the financial information for April has played a part in dictating what happens to wages and benefits of employees. “There will be some raise given, and there are some hospitals that will not be doing that this year,” Myers said. Myers also said that May will probably not be as strong a month financially as April, as there were some “ups and downs.”
VMH celebrated hospital week by honoring its personnel who serve area communities. VMH continues to work on its Capital Budget, which Myers said should be brought before the board of directors at the June meeting. The budget is going to be around $300,000.
The University  of Iowa has made its annual review of the VMH OB Services, and Myers noted that they will be meeting with med staff on the recommendations made by the university. As noted earlier, VMH is working on installation of electronic medical records, and the hospital is expecting to “go live” July 1 of this year.
Myers traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with legislative representatives. He noted that a big concern for rural hospitals was the issue of swing bed payment, and that a report from the Office of the Inspector General should be coming out on that. VMH and other hospitals around the nation will be watching to see what the impact of any changes would be if that is approved.
“Since they passed a budget and it’s not hanging in the balance, it’s not like they're out there hammering on everything, and because what our issues are in the scope of a $3-$4 trillion dollar budget, there isn’t enough there to say ‘We need to focus on this $100 million deal,’” Myers said.
Myers also discussed a program called Chimemap, which is a tool VMH can use to better understand its demographics and market share, as well the number of people with chronic diseases. The hospital can use the information to determine what kinds of classes to offer and what kind of screenings to offer to help catch things like diabetes or congestive heart failure. “We want to better enhance and improve our care to them,” Myers noted.
VMH has also approved the use of nitrous oxide as an option for OB patients. In-service training will take place in early June, and after the training it will be implemented. Myers noted that the use of nitrous oxide for labor pain management in the United States is an issue that is becoming more talked about in medicine as well as in the media.