Originally created 08/17/00

Hospital gets boost from aid



The new operating company for Medical College of Georgia Hospital and Clinics reported a healthy $3 million surplus in its first month - thanks in part to state money.

The board of directors of MCG Health Inc. met Wednesday and reviewed the first month of operations since the nonprofit company took over clinical operations July 1. As of July 31, the company reported being $3.2 million ahead. That included $3 million in direct state support and $2 million from the Indigent Care Trust Fund, money meant to compensate hospitals that have a heavy Medicaid patient load. Those amounts are pro-rated from what the hospital expects to receive this year from those funds, said Thomas Kelly Jr., senior vice president for finance and chief financial officer.

The company is aiming for a 5 percent margin, about $14 million this fiscal year, "and we're $3.2 million already toward the goal after one month," President and Chief Executive Officer Don Snell said.

The company would not have made it to the surplus without those state dollars, but it also wouldn't attract such a heavy indigent care burden, Mr. Snell said. About 18 percent of its volume is indigent care, and MCG might now be the state's largest provider of indigent care, Mr. Snell said. Actually, the largest provider last year was Medical Center of Central Georgia in Bibb County, at more than $20 million in uncompensated care, said John Rice, spokesman for the state Division of Health Planning.

The MCG board voted to form an Ad Hoc Indigent Care Task Force to study how to best manage that care in the future. The board also voted to extend an invitation to Georgia Department of Community Health Commissioner Russ Toal to send a liaison to the committee.

"We can't make a decision in a vacuum that might be misperceived as self-serving or not to the benefit of the state," MCG President Dr. Francis J. Tedesco said.

Mr. Toal and Community Health have been asked by Gov. Roy Barnes to come up with recommendations for reducing the number of uninsured people in Georgia, which is estimated at 1.3 million. Mr. Toal will present those recommendations to Community Health's board Aug. 30 and then forward them to Mr. Barnes the next day, spokeswoman Joyce Goldberg said.

"(They) will focus on private sector initiatives, public sector initiatives and enhancement of existing safety net programs," she said.

MCG Health's board held its first meeting without its chairman, Thomas F. Allgood Sr., who died in a plane crash Aug. 4. His friend Donald Leebern Jr. of Columbus, who had been vice chairman of the board, was unanimously approved to succeed him.

"I'm blessed because I had a great tutor and, No. 1, a great friend," Mr. Leebern said.

The board is losing another member in Senior Vice Chancellor Lindsay Desrochers, who will leave Sept. 30 to take a position with the University of California system. She has served on the board as the designee for University System of Georgia Chancellor Stephen Portch and was very involved in MCG and forming MCG Health.

Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213 or tomc@augustachronicle.com.