BCHA budget anticipates a $750,000 loss

Published 1:27 pm Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Staff Writer

Beaufort County Hospital Authority Inc. expects to lose close to $750,000 in the coming fiscal year, according to the 2010-2011 budget approved by the Beaufort County Medical Center Board of Trustees on Tuesday.
The 2010-2011 spending plan was approved unanimously by the trustees, who met following a meeting of the Beaufort Regional Health System Board of Commissioners.
The BCHA spending plan, which goes into effect Oct. 1, anticipates total revenues of about $78.6 million, but it anticipates about $79.2 million in expenses, according to Chris Riggs, BRHS’s chief finance officer.
“A lot of thought and debate went into the preparation of this budget,” Riggs told the board. “It was a challenging and daunting experience.”
The 2010-2011 fiscal year spending plan also includes about $2.1 million in capital projects — $850,000 in information technology upgrades, $455,000 in new surgical equipment, $200,000 in new laboratory equipment and $180,000 in new radiological equipment, among other projects.
Riggs, in an interview after the meeting, described the capital-projects budget as “very lean.”
“We pushed back into subsequent years anything that we could push back,” he said.
The BRHS budget includes a 2-percent merit pay increase for BRHS employees at a cost of about $600,000, Riggs said.
“We’ve got to be able to offer something to our employees to get them to stay here,” he told the board.
The budget also follows through on a recommendation approved earlier this year that cuts spending by eliminating the health system’s contributions to its employees’ retirement plans. Riggs said.
The BCHA budget also includes a 4-percent increase in charges for its services, an increase that is comparable to other hospitals in the region and tracks the nationwide rate of inflation for medical services, Riggs said.
The spending plan assumes that inpatient numbers at Beaufort Regional Medical Center will be about the same in the coming fiscal year as compared to the current fiscal year and a slight increase in the number of outpatient visits in the coming year, Riggs said.
And, depending on the outcome of the health system’s pursuit of a possible merger partner, the 2010-2011 budget could change in six months, he said.
Riggs has resigned his post and accepted a position with New Hanover Regional Health Systems as chief finance officer for Pender Memorial Hospital in Burgaw. His resignation is effective Sept. 10.
In other business, the boards:
• Heard a report from Susan Gerard, acting chief executive officer, on site visits by potential merger partners. Representatives of four health-care providers that received the BRHS document, called a request for proposal, have visited BRHS and met with some of its staff in August, Gerard told the BRHS Board of Commissioners. They include Greenville-based University Health Systems of Eastern Carolina, Capella Healthcare of Franklin, Tenn., and LifePoint Hospitals Inc., and Community Health Systems Inc. of Brentwood, Tenn. As of Tuesday, no responses to the RFP have been received by HealthCare Appraisers Inc., consultants on the merger proposal, Gerard said. The deadline for responses is Saturday. A public hearing on the proposed merger of BRHS with another health care provider was scheduled to be held Tuesday night.
• Unanimously voted to recommend that the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners reappoint Alice Mills Sadler and Jack Piland to the two boards and that the commissioners appoint Suzanne Gray to replace Curtis Potter. Potter asked not to be reconsidered for reappointment.
• Unanimously approved a list of applications and reappointments to the BRHS medical staff.
Board member Allen Roberson was absent from the meeting. All other board members attended the meeting.