A $1 million slump at United Hospital District?has some worried about jobs and patient care.
The UHD 2013 audit came back just fine, but 2014 has gotten off to a much worse financial start.
Hospital administrator Jeff Lang issued a letter to UHD staff informing them of cutbacks that have occurred as a result of patient volume and revenue being down.
The letter states, "the year-to-date revenue is almost $2 million less than what we expected and is $1 million less than last year through the same time period."
Lang confirmed this to be true, saying that while volume is typically down during the first quarter of the year, 2014 has been unusual.
"This is more than a little unexpected,"?Lang says.
UHD?has taken some steps toward a solution during this slow period.
"Like any other business would do in this situation, we had to make cutbacks," Lang explains.
UHD departments rolled out staffing adjustments, according to the letter sent to staff, and those adjustments have resulted in employees having hours reduced and, in a few cases, eliminated altogether.
"Some may worry that through these staffing adjustments, will they still be getting the same level of care," Lang says. "Absolutely. There will be no changes to the staffing metrics." The hospital is looking at the organization as a whole and making various adjustments accordingly.
"We're off by $1 million and have put a plan in place which involves $2 million in adjustments," Lang says. "Those include new revenue, salary adjustments and benefit adjustments."
Lang adds that with the change in technology some of the duties people used to do are no longer needed.
"There are, however, further plans to reduce non-salary expenses and to secure new revenue opportunities, but the impact to employees is complete," the letter to staff reads.
And while no one can be entirely sure of what is causing this dramatic financial slump at the beginning of this year, Lang has some factors in mind which could be contributing.
"Healthcare reform is driving quite a bit of this,"?he says. "And the decline this quarter is not entirely unusual."
Lang explains that he has spoken with colleagues in other hospital facilities that are seeing a similar decrease in volume.
"It was during these same months we've seen a decline that there was a big push from the healthcare reform," Lang says.
He explains this potentially left people feeling apprehensive to visit their doctor because they were unsure of what the costs would be and how the program would work.
Lang goes on to say healthcare reform will continue to have an impact on the future of healthcare itself.
"It requires entities to provide a higher level of service and a better outcome," Lang says. "Regardless of who's paying the bill, they want a better value for their dollar."
But despite the changes being made and the great drop in revenue, UHD is confident they will have a successful year.
"UHD?is a strong organization" the letter to staff reads. "With the changes we have made as an organization I believe we will have a successful end of the year."