CEO grilled on state of hospital finances

Franklin County commissioners have serious concerns about the state of Apalachicola, Fla.-based Weems Memorial Hospital after questioning CEO David Walker on the back of a financial report compiled by Alliant Management Services, The Apalachicola Times reported May 22. 

Four things to know:

1. The report came from Michael Kozar, CEO of Northwest Florida Community Hospital in Chipley and president and CEO of Alliant Management Services. Mr. Kozer detailed the challenging financial environment for hospitals in Florida, with particular emphasis on increasing labor, drug and medical costs. 

2. One of the toughest challenges is the increasing cost of operating the hospital. Mr. Kozar said costs have risen by 30 percent to 40 percent, while reimbursements from payers have been up 2 to 3 percent "at most," according to the report. 

3. Commissioners wanted answers from Mr. Walker on a number of initiatives, including why the hospital's swing-bed program never got off the ground and why they had not been notified ahead of time about an inpatient stabilization program for drugs and alcohol that would run upwards of $400,000 a year, according to the report. The hospital ended the program after a couple months after initial payments of about $50,000 and an initial cost of less than $35,000. Mr. Walker said it did not meet the required threshold of $50,000 to warrant approval by the commissioners.

"We basically wasted 50 grand," Commissioner Ottice Amison said. "I'm just baffled that we took $50,000 and threw it away. I feel we were being deceived on that."

4. County officials asked to meet soon with hospital leaders and that they provide a more thorough breakdown of the numbers. Commissioner Cheryl Sanders asked, "Are you going to have good enough numbers where you're not going to have to stick your hand in the cookie jar and take it out of the healthcare trust fund?" 

Mr. Kozar stressed that while operational funds are at a lower point than one year ago, the hospital is making progress toward improving those numbers.

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