The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

May 20, 2013

Study: Hospitals’ finances are healthy

— Hospitals across the region maintained financial health last year, a new state report shows.

But leaders say the continued strength required constant scrutiny and creative programming to identify new opportunities in a dynamic industry.

“We need to be adaptable,” said Richard Sukenik, chief financial officer at Windber Medical Center.

“Each day, another curveball seems to be thrown at us – and we have to adapt to that.”

At Windber, that has meant eliminating the obstetrics program and expanding gynecology. A new emergency department is in the works as part of adjustments to embrace growth in outpatient services.  

At Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center in Johnstown and the rest of the Conemaugh Health System, doctors and administrators work as a team to monitor every aspect of the business of health care, Conemaugh CFO Edward D. Pasquale said.

“Going into the future, our costs will have to be controlled by our physicians,” DePasquale said, adding that the system approach allows for economies of scale to save money in supplies and labor costs.

The new Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council’s hospital financial report shows Memorial’s $348 million in revenue from patient care led the five-county region, which covers Cambria, Somerset, Indiana, Bedford and Blair counties. But the revenue was up by just $1 million, or less than one-half a percent over last year. The region’s average was a 2 percent gain.

Windber, Meyersdale, Miners and Indiana Regional medical centers also experienced increases in revenue, but Somerset was down slightly, from $63 million to $62 million.

All six hospitals finished the 2012 fiscal year in the black, led by Memorial’s hefty 8.5 percent total margin.

Somerset’s drop in revenue was attributed to a decline in traditional in-patient admissions, CEO Ronald Park said.

“It is certainly a concern,” Park said, noting that admissions were up through the first three quarters of the 2013 fiscal year, which ends June 30.

“The pressure is on hospitals to not be admitting people to the hospital,” Park said.

The goal of health care reform is to encourage preventive care by paying health care providers to help consumers stay healthy or at least manage their conditions at home.

“We are working on expanding our primary-care market capture and carefully building a specialty care network of physicians,” Park said.

Indiana Regional Medical Center is taking a similar approach as the other hospitals: Working in partnership with physicians and adding outpatient service such as orthopedic rehabilitation, CEO Stephen A. Wolfe said.

But preventive care can’t begin at the doctor’s office door, he added.

“I think population health care is about interfacing with the patients in their home situations,” Wolfe said.

He predicts that nurses, social workers and other professionals will be following up with patients between appointments to be sure their homes are safe, that they are taking their medication and following up with physicians.

The need for preventive care can be seen in the PHC4 report’s figures showing the only increase in admissions was seen among patients on medical assistance.

“The theory is that they put off care until they really need it,” DePasquale said. “The challenge is to do more things up front.”

Federal health care reform included an offer of more money for state-run medical assistance programs, DePasquale noted, but Pennsylvania has not taken action to accept the money.

The future of government reimbursement for health care and medical assistance, also called Medicaid, remains the elephant in the room of hospital financial planning. That’s especially true in Cambria and Somerset counties, where more than half of all hospital revenues come from Medicare and Medicaid, the report shows.

“It’s a challenge for any hospital,” DePasquale said. “We typically lose money on Medicaid. You have to make money on your Medicare population.”

Uncompensated care, which includes uncollectible bills and charity care, is another concern. The PHC4 report shows it is up statewide, and most hospitals in this region had uncompensated care rates above the state average.

“While a number of hospitals, particularly larger facilities, experienced relatively healthy margins in fiscal year 2012, there are trouble spots among many of the small to midsize hospitals in Pennsylvania,” said Joe Martin, executive director of PHC4.

“In addition, the continued growth of uncompensated care, now over $1 billion annually, remains a major concern.”

Uncompensated care topped $1 billion statewide, up more than 120 percent since 2002.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat print edition.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat e-edition.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • Halfway house inmates can ease back into society

    Prison life can be a time warp.
    When inmates are locked away – for months, years, decades – society moves forward: Technology evolves, major events occur, pop culture changes. From a personal perspective, families and friends live their lives: weddings, funerals, graduations, births, retirements. All the while, criminals bide their time, existing in a regimented world of cement walls and metal bars.
    Almost all of them eventually rejoin society, though.

    April 19, 2014

  • Crime board took aim at house

    Johnstown’s unemployment rate is around 8 percent.
    One-third of the city’s population lives in poverty.
    Burglaries and assaults significantly increased between 2010 and 2012. There is a thriving illegal trade in heroin and prescription drugs.
    Given those conditions, it can be challenging for Johnstown Community Corrections Center residents to find jobs when living in the facility or to avoid falling back into a criminal lifestyle upon their release.

    April 19, 2014

  • Homicides linked to center

    Three homicides that took place in Johnstown last year involved either a suspect or victim who previously resided in the Community Corrections Center.
    Police Chief Craig Foust confirmed the name of one victim, who spent almost two months in the facility on Washington Street during 2007, a time period verified by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.

    April 19, 2014

  • bachota Volunteers helping to spruce up community

    Walls and ceilings inside the Cambria County Library look clean and bright with fresh new coats of paint on them.
    The work was recently done by inmates from the Johnstown Community Corrections Center.

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • alanna Hartzok targets income disparity

    Alanna Hartzok described herself as being a conservative progressive.
    The Franklin County resident said she is in favor of conserving environmental resources, education opportunities, Social Security and Medicare, while wanting to progressively address wealth inequality, health care and taxation.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Schools rise to leadership challenge

    Forest Hills and Cambria Heights high school students put the spirit of healthy competition toward a good cause and picked up some lessons in leadership along the way.

    April 19, 2014

  • KATEY LADIKA Student’s photos win awards

    A Forest Hills High School junior has captured several awards in a high school arts and writing contest that has identified greats such as Truman Capote and Andy Warhol.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jim Siehl JIM SIEHL | Music to my ears

    Seldom has $15 produced such a high level of entertainment as it did a few weeks ago when I found myself in the second row just left of center keeping back the tears once again during my third live performance of “Les Miserables.”

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Michele Bender Bye, bye, Easter birdies

    Animals fascinated my mom. Riding the train between Johnstown and Philly, she saw horses, pigs, sheep, cows … a Mattel See ’n Say of farm critters.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bill Eggert Columnist Photo Travelogue of terror features Johnstown area

    A historic week will surround the venerable Silver Drive-In come the beginning of May.

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos


Would you like to see the Johnstown Community Corrections Center remain open after its lease runs out on Oct. 11, 2015?

I'm not sure
     View Results
House Ads