CEO: Hospital can reduce losses

Mitch Robinson, Staff Writer, Greenwood Commonwealth

Greenwood Leflore Hospital’s new CEO is confident that the medical facility can reduce its losses by at least 40 percent over the next 12 months.

Subho Basu’s optimistic prediction on Wednesday came a day after he and the hospital’s chief financial officer, Dawne Holmes, informed the institution’s board that for the year ending Sept. 30, the hospital lost $9.5 million.

Assuming that figure holds after the annual audit is completed, it would be the third straight year in which the hospital has suffered a multimillion-dollar loss.

Basu, who was hired last week as interim CEO, said that a turnaround is “already happening.” He predicted cutting the shortfall by at least $4 million during the new fiscal year, a number he called a “conservative figure.”

He said the hospital can now focus in detail on its revenue and expenses with greater precision, thanks in part to the steps implemented with the help of Vizient Inc., a Dallas-based consulting firm for which Basu worked, including as a financial adviser to the Greenwood hospital from late 2017 until his hiring as interim CEO.

Basu identified as priorities several potential areas of cost savings.

For example, he said, more than $1 million of the hospital’s deficit this past year was the result of filling about 26 nursing positions with contracted workers rather than hospital employees. Contracted nurses bring with them a high fee for the firms that place them.

The Greenwood hospital is in the process of recruiting more full-time nurses and phasing out its past use of contracting firms, Basu said.

He said that the hospital also is renegotiating its contracts and purchasing costs with ongoing providers. He said he believes restructuring what the hospital buys, fromn whom and for how much will save at least $2 million to $3 million.

Despite the loss this past year, the hospital saw its net patient revenues increase by $15 million to more than $110 million. Holmes said the increase was mainly the result of more efficient collection of patient bills and co-pays.

One factor crimping the hospital’s operation is the national trend, encouraged by government and private insurers, toward outpatient care. Inpatient treatments, whether overnight or for multiple days, produce more income for the hospital than outpatient services. The shift, according to Holmes, resulted in $4 million less in gross patient revenue (the amount billed to insurers) the past year.

Basu said that the reality of insurance companies squeezing reimbursements to providers and pushing less expensive treatment will continue for the foreseeable future. Despite that, he said the hospital will continue to provide the same quality of care — including the necessary procedures and tests and learn to adapt.

“I tell the doctors, ‘Just keep doing what you do best,'” he said.