Originally created 11/17/00

Hospital board adopts budget



University Hospital is looking for a robust performance next year despite cuts in Medicare and a potential decrease in Augusta's indigent care payment.

The difference will come from an increased volume and managing expenses, said J. Larry Read, chief executive officer of University Health Care System.

University's board of trustees adopted a 2001 budget Thursday that projects a surplus of $18.5 million on gross revenues of $517 million. Through Oct. 29, University was reporting an $11.7 million surplus this year.

"We will feel awfully lucky if we end up this time next year with the same kind of numbers that we have (now)," said Robert Taylor, chief financial officer for University.

But it can be done, Mr. Read said.

"We have to reduce our expenses in a number of ways," he said. "There's some growth in there that we project will pick up part of that."

University is projecting a 5 percent increase in patients overall next year, including births and in its transitional care unit, a nursing-home like unit within the hospital. The aging population should also bring a slight increase in cardiac patients. Toward that end, the board approved a $1.86 million expansion of the cardiac catheterization program, including adding a fifth cath lab. The program is already running at 123 percent of capacity, said Teresa Waters, director of cath lab/cardiopulmonary services. The cath labs are so busy that 10 percent of cases end up being done after 5:30 p.m., Mrs. Waters said.

The board also voted to spend $760,000 for a new information system for surgical services.

In its proposed budget for next year, the Augusta government would cut what it pays University to care for the certified indigent from $1.25 million to $1 million. Mr. Read said University had asked for the amount to remain the same.

"We'll continue to discuss that with them," Mr. Read said. "If it goes up, great. If it doesn't, we'll adjust to that."

Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213.