Decline in patient visits prompts changes at Oxford hospital


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Decline in patient visits prompts changes at Oxford hospital

BY THE NUMBERS: McCullough-Hyde Memorial Hospital

Total Revenue

2010: $65.9 million

2011: $63.2 million

2012: $54.9 million

2013: $55.8 million

Total Expenses

2010: $65.6 million

2011: $62.4 million

2012: $55.1 million

2013: $55.7 million

Net Income

2010: $568,822

2011: $965,301

2012: $49,395

2013: $194,157

Inpatient discharges

2010: 2,776

2011: 2,608

2012: 2,384

2013: 2,237

Full-time equivalent employees

2010: 439

2011: 431

2012: 421

2013: 418

Source: Hospital annual reports

Butler County’s last remaining independent hospital is countering declining revenues and patient volumes with an investment in orthopaedic services and the hope for an affiliation partner.

Bryan Hehemann, president and chief executive officer at McCullough-Hyde Memorial Hospital, presented the hospital’s 2013 annual report to city council members and residents on Tuesday.

The annual report outlined a 6 percent drop in patient volumes from 2012 to 2013; but overall the hospital has recorded a 19 percent drop in inpatient discharges since 2010, according to annual reports.

“This kind of reflects what’s happening across the country and in some instances across the state and the Tri-State area … and that’s small decreases in some of our services,” Hehemann said.

Hehemann said the hospital still maintained a positive net income of $194,000 in 2013.

In order to manage the decline in patient volumes, Hehemann told the Journal-News the hospital has been adjusting workers’ hours as needed. He said work hours are being cut back during times of low volume in areas including laboratory and imaging services.

“We’re calling people off when volumes are not at budget,” Hehemann said, which includes both day and night shifts.

But Hehemann said a bright spot has been a 10 percent increase in physical therapy and rehabilitation services during the past two years.

In fact, the hospital invested $459,000 in 2013 for renovations at its outpatient facility on Morning Sun Road that houses Pinnacle Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine among other offices, according to the annual report.

Those renovations include upgrades to the front desk and reception area to create more counter space for patients; additional storage and shelves; shifts to some staff offices to improve work flow; and one additional treatment bay added, according to Hehemann.

Other capital improvements in 2013 included an investment of $281,000 for Voice-over Internet Protocol communications; $470,000 for a lab analyzer; and $86,000 for a portable X-ray digital format upgrade, according to the annual report.

Affiliation update

The Oxford hospital originally announced in late 2012 its plan to pursue an affiliation with a larger health system due to not having enough resources alone for making changes required under federal health care reform.

The hospital had been in exclusive talks with the Cincinnati hospital network Mercy Health, but suspended those discussions in March after three months.

“We have started talking with others,” Hehemann said, including TriHealth and UC Health. “We’ve not entered anything exclusive.”

Hehemann said a possible affiliation could take on many different forms.

The hospital board established specific principles and outcomes it would like to see retained, including allowing the Oxford hospital to remain a community-based hospital; preserving the existing medical staff; allowing the medical staff to give input on the best working relationship with the potential affiliate; and maintaining a local decision-making ability.

Hehemann said the decision to end negotiations with Mercy Health should not delay the process of establishing an affiliation.

“We’re not starting over from scratch,” Hehemann said, adding a decision could be made by late summer.

Hehemann said the Oxford hospital is seeking an affiliation for several reasons, including access to information technology and other capital needs and developing the local medical network for contracting with insurance companies and payers.

“It’s been a slow, steady and thoughtful process to approach health systems in Cincinnati,” Hehemann said.

Oxford Mayor Kevin McKeehan said he understands the challenges facing a small, independent hospital. He said an affiliation would equip the community with more access to physicians and the latest equipment.

“The medical field is evolving rapidly,” McKeehan said. “In many industries, it’s harder for smaller organizations to survive.”

McKeehan said he hopes the hospital is able to reach an amenable affiliation agreement rather than a merger with a larger hospital system, so that the hospital can maintain some local control.

“If it became a large merger, I’d hate to lose our hospital,” McKeehan said. “With a merger there might come the day when they’re counting their beans and say it doesn’t make good business sense.”

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