The Children’s Hospital of Georgia name has been longed for since 1994, when Dr. William Kanto became chairman of the Department of Pediatrics. The children’s hospital already had been funded as the Children’s Medical Center, however, so no move was made to change it, even though many liked the other name better, said Kanto, now the chief medical officer of the health system.
“It was recognized then that this was to be a resource for the entire state,” he said. “And it was felt that name would better reflect its mission and as well as its opportunities. I can’t tell you how happy and ecstatic I am to see Children’s Hospital of Georgia. It was a long time coming.”
Across the country, children’s hospitals are often called just that, even if they are part of a health care system with a different name, said Dr. Ricardo Azziz, the president of Georgia Regents University and chairman of the boards.
“They tend to be named along those lines,” he said, and the name reflects who the hospital is meant to serve.
“There is little doubt that we are the children’s hospital for the state of Georgia,” Azziz said. The legal names of the companies operating the hospital and its physician group will not change, the resolution stated.
Amid the excitement of the name change was dismal financial news about the first six months of the hospital’s fiscal year. A $4 million loss for the second quarter wiped out gains from the first quarter, leaving the center about $112,000 in the red, Chief Financial Officer Greg Damron said.
Hospital admissions are 4.6 percent below budget and 2 percent off the previous year. Surgeries are 5.2 percent off budget, and net patient revenue is nearly $11 million behind budget.
Sharply higher, however, were visits to the emergency department, up 8 percent over budget and 12.2 percent over the previous year – or about 5,000 visits more this year than last. About 30 percent of those patients are uninsured, which is helping to change the hospital’s payer mix to less commercial managed care and more uninsured, Medicare and Medicaid patients, Damron said. Over the course of a year, that would cost the health system about $6 million, he said.
The system is looking at a six-month action plan to get back on budget, which would include tighter control of hiring and things such as “tighter management” of non-emergency services, said David Hefner, the executive vice president for clinical affairs at GRU.