Local hospital continues to boost its services despite financial challenges

"We're still not operating in the black, but I'm confident that we'll get there, We're being as diligent as we can in managing our expenses," said Kevin Klockenga, president and CEO of St. Joseph Health System-Sonoma County, which operates the hospital.

The hospital earned $79.4 million in 2008-2009, but had $82.8 million in expenses. However, 1.47 million was withheld from the hospital in Medi-Cal cuts that were restored at the beginning of this fiscal year, thanks to legislation introduced by Assemblymember Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael.

Given the additional $1.47 million, this fiscal year through February, PVH is $1.3 million in the black.

But even if the 1.47 million that was withheld is subtracted, PVH still suffered a net loss of $2.13 million last year, and in trying to address this problem, administrators are taking a close look at the services provided at the hospital.

"We're looking at a multitude of things," said Jane Read, the hospital's vice president of operations. "We are looking at our services, and determining what amounts of time are reasonable for providing them. Is it five or seven days per week? Is eight hours per day appropriate? We're also looking at whether or not it makes sense to have some staff in-house or be on-call.

"We're wanting to hold one another accountable, and reduce premium pay and overtime."

Klockenga says that no layoffs are being planned at this time, adding that several major factors have contributed to the hospital's financial losses.

"We've had a slight drop in revenue because some people are postponing elective procedures," Klockenga said. "Also, we've had a change in the payer mix, and now a smaller portion of our patients are paying for services."

PVH admissions dropped from 3,494 in the 2007-2008 fiscal year to 3,125 in 2008-2009. Through the first eight months of the 2009-2010 fiscal year, there have been 2,052 admissions. The number of total surgeries (consisting of elective, urgent and emergent surgeries) fell from 2,378 in 2007-2008 to 2,281 in 2008-2009, with elective surgeries declining from 1,677 in 2007-2008 to 1,639 in 2008-2009.

The hospital has treated an increasingly higher portion of Medicare and Medi-Cal patients, and they now make up over half of the total number served.

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