Augusta University Health sees more patients, lower costs, turns finances around

Augusta (Ga.) University Health is on better financial footing after losing millions last fiscal year.

The three-hospital, nonprofit system recorded operating revenue of $861.8 million in the fiscal year ended June 30, up 6.6 percent from $808.3 million in 2017, according to unaudited financial numbers. AU Health CFO Greg Damron told The Augusta Chronicle the increase is attributable to increased patient volume and higher reimbursements to the hospital's specialty pharmacy business and other services.

At the same time, AU Health's operating expenses fell. Operating expenses decreased 2.5 percent year over year, from $823 million in 2017 to $802.2 million in 2018.

The system ended 2018 with operating income of $59.6 million, compared to an operating loss of $14.6 million last year. 

Hospital officials attributed AU Health's financial improvement to staffing level reductions via attrition, a more than $30 million reduction in physician fringe benefits, and one-time operational and accounting changes, according to The Augusta Chronicle.

AU Health CEO Brooks Keel, PhD, told the publication the financial reversal occurred due to "an awful lot of people doing an awful lot of very hard work."

Dr. Keel also pointed to the "serious, significant capital issues" the system faces. In early August, the Augusta Economic Development Authority approved a resolution allowing AU Health to borrow up to $230 million for refinancing existing debt, reimbursement for completed projects and new project funding.


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