November 10, 2010

Health care system has profitable year

By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

While Dan Kelly, CEO of the McKenzie County Healthcare Systems may have been a little disappointed with the number of patients that the facility saw at its clinic, hospital and emergency room this year, you have to excuse him for not being too upset.
After all, the patient numbers for the facility were up in all categories during the past year. But more importantly, the health care system is turning a profit and Kelly believes that the system can be profitable into the future.
“The health care system’s revenues were up $1.2 million over the past year,” stated Kelly during the health care system’s annual meeting on Monday, Nov. 1. “We had a very good year financially with a total margin of 4.7 percent.”
In 2010, according to Kelly, the health care system had a net operating income of $262,604 compared to $53,936 in the previous year.
“I feel really good where we are sitting right now,” states Kelly. “We didn’t have a banner year, but we ended the year in the black.”
And being in the black is not a claim many of the state’s critical access hospitals can make.
“Of the 36 critical access hospitals in North Dakota only 13, including our facility, are operating in the black,” stated Kelly. “Two-thirds of the facilities are losing money. And in the past four years, 15 facilities have lost money each year while only two facilities showed a profit.”
Part of the financial problem facing North Dakota’s critical access hospitals, according to Kelly, is the low reimbursements these facilities receive from Medicare.
“North Dakota is the second lowest paid state in the nation by Medicare,” stated Kelly. “Yet we are one of the highest quality care providers in the nation.”
In 2008, according to Kelly, North Dakota hospitals had margins of a negative .95 percent compared to margins of up to 4.82 percent by hospitals in neighboring states.
While Kelly credits a portion of the financial turnaround for McKenzie County Healthcare Systems to being able to maximize reimbursements from Medicare and other insurance providers, he says that the system has also been able to add new services that have allowed the system to make a profit.
“Over the past year, we have added five or six new services, such as the visiting nurse program, a digital mammography service, an adult day care program at the nursing home, and expanded our sleep study services, that have allowed us to become more profitable,” stated Kelly. “These new services allow us to be able to offer programs to area people that would have had to travel great distances to receive.”
And when the health care system is showing a profit, Kelly says that there is money to be used to improve the quality of care in McKenzie County.
“The profits that we generate enable us to purchase new equipment, to invest in new technology, and to provide the resources necessary to plan for possible expansion of our facility,” stated Kelly.
Kelly also informed the delegates to this year’s annual meeting that recruiting efforts are ongoing to find a new doctor as well as a mid-level provider.
During the business portion of the health care system’s annual meeting, David Brenna and Michon Sax were re-elected to three-year terms on the board of trustees and Scott Swenson and Neal Shipman were elected to the board to replace the vacancies left by Dyanne Johnsrud and Doug Nenow.