Maine hospital pauses pay raises amid CEO search, financial struggles

York (Maine) Hospital is temporarily holding off on across-the-board pay raises as it works to improve its financial picture and continues to search for a permanent CEO, the Portsmouth Herald reported.

The hold on raises is part of the hospital's efforts to control expenses while maximizing revenue potential from services, according to a letter from hospital leaders, sent Jan. 15 to employees and obtained by the newspaper.

"As in any business, where we want to focus our efforts are those places where we can recognize and record a margin," Chief Financial and Operations Officer Robin LaBonte told the Portsmouth Herald Jan. 18. "In healthcare, a lot of those services are procedural. Whether they're your imaging procedures, your surgical procedures, your cardiology procedures — those are areas that tend to generate margin, so we will focus on those areas to try to grow, if we can."

Ms. LaBonte and Chief Medical and Quality Officer Jennifer Cutts, MD, who have been serving as interim co-CEOs since March, said in their letter that the hospital will also work to improve its revenue cycle operations and boost data-informed decision-making, and work to fill more appointment openings, among other steps.

Ms. LaBonte told the Portsmouth Herald the hospital's financial challenges began before the pandemic, with an operating loss of more than $7 million in 2019, and this was exacerbated when the public health crisis hit. The hospital leaders cited evolving insurance reimbursement models as a factor contributing to the hospital's financial situation. According to the newspaper, they also said the hospital "had not historically consistently analyzed and benchmarked financial and operational data against similar-sized hospitals and developed methods to perform at needed levels."

Overall, their goal is an annual net margin improvement of about $6.5 million, they said.

As the hospital addresses its financial situation, it is also searching for a permanent CEO. Dr. Cutts and Ms. LaBonte began serving as interim co-CEOs when Jud Knox left the organization. The leaders said a new CEO is expected at the hospital this year. 


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