GRU clinical system $6 million in the red

As officials still cope with the consolidated universities that have become Georgia Regents University, its clinical system is facing its own series of adjustments in the months ahead.

The university held its first forum Wednesday for students, faculty and staff on what is now called the Health Sciences campus of the former Georgia Health Sciences University. Another couple of forums are scheduled for Thursday on what is now referred to as the Summerville campus of the former Augusta State University.

The new university’s clinical system – the two hospitals, its clinics and its physician practice group – is running about $6 million behind where it was last fiscal year because of lower revenue and slightly higher expenses. Because it had budgeted to be $12 million ahead of last year at this point, to get back on budget will be “an $18 million swing,” said David Hefner, the executive vice president for clinical affairs at GRU.

Part of the problem has been a series of state revenue cuts to the university overall that amount to $53.7 million over the past four fiscal years, he said.

“That’s part of what we are dealing with here, as well as the Affordable Care Act (federal health reform) and other changes in the national landscape,” Hefner said.

It isn’t really one major discrepancy as it is a number of programs that are somewhat off, he said.

“On the revenue side, it’s a little bit across many different dimensions,” Hefner said.

“It’s not any one thing. On the expense side, it’s the same thing happening: It’s a one percent here and a one percent there.”

In a $600 million organization, those kinds of things add up quickly and will probably demand “a series of tweaks to get it back in line,” he said. “It’s nothing draconian. It’s just prudent management.”

Personnel is “always one of the levers” under consideration but Hefner said it would be “obviously the last thing we would do if we had to do that and if we do it will be minimal.”

The clinical system’s boards meet next week and one thing under consideration is a new name to reflect the new university that will “harmonize those names,” he said.

The university has a number of important initiatives to add to its $104 million in supported research, Provost Gretchen Caughman said.

“It’s always important to keep that pipeline going,” she said.

IF YOU GO

WHAT: Georgia Regents University forum

WHEN: 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Thursday

WHERE: Maxwell Performing Arts Theatre on Summerville campus

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