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CVPH makes cuts, changes in light of $800k deficit

PLATTSBURGH Efforts are underway at CVPH Medical Center to overcome an $810,000 deficit facing the Beekman Street facility. In the Oct. 4 edition of STAT News, the official CVPH newsletter, hospital president and chief executive officer Stephens Mundy discussed the deficit in a front-page column titled The Challenge is Ours. Mr. Mundy responded to a question posed regarding how the shortcoming can be made up in hospitals current $211 million operating budget in the next three months. Thats the question that wont be answered until the end of the year, Mr. Mundy wrote. However, its safe to say that were making the effort throughout the organization. According to Mr. Mundy, those efforts are being made in several ways, from procedural changes to reductions in department expenses. One particular source of revenue being examined by the hospital administration is reimbursement for services where we chronically lose money, said Mr. Mundy. The administration has been negotiating with insurance companies and government officials to increase rates paid to the hospital in order to help their bottom line. Reimbursement is a huge issue, said CVPH public relations liaison Michael Hildebran. We are losing money in a number of services because reimbursement is actually far less than the cost to provide the service. A classic example, said Mr. Hildebran, is mental health, where the state Medicaid program pays the hospital between $6 and $10 for physician coverage per day. Thats far less than what the physician is being paid, remarked Mr. Hildebran. Ideally, the administration is doing everything possible to improve the hospitals finances without leaving an impact on patient care, Mr. Mundy wrote. Other measures being taken include reducing marketing and promotional expenses and asking patients for co-pays in Fast Track and Ambulatory Surgery, similar to what is done in private practices. Training and travel expenses have also been drastically curtailed and all capital purchases not previously committed have been frozen, Mr. Mundy stated. Departments have also reportedly turned in unused office supplies valued at $10,000, as a means to bring down the deficit. Conducting certain testing in-house by the CVPH laboratory is also being examined. Positions held by four employees three managers and a coordinator were also terminated, though the decision was difficult, said Mr. Mundy. The exact total of the employees salaries was not disclosed, though each employee reportedly received a severance package and assistance in seeking other employment. There are no other plans to eliminate jobs because of the hospitals financial situation and there is no hiring freeze, Mr. Mundy stated. In addition, department managers now face a use it or lose it format for paid time off, meaning they will not be able to covert the unused time to cash at the end of the year, as in previous years. In the most recent edition of STAT News Oct. 11, the latest measure to reduce the deficit involved CVPH senior management voluntarily taking a six percent pay cut until the end of the year. The decision will impact Mr. Mundy as well as CVPH vice presidents and associate vice presidents. As a community hospital, we have responsibilities, Mr. Mundy wrote in his Oct. 4 column. Meeting health needs by providing quality care heads the list. Maintaining healthy finances is another important responsibility. In fact, if we fail financially, it becomes extremely difficult to provide quality care long term. Thats why it is so important that we do our utmost now to right our financial ship.

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