Vermont hospital struggles to pay its bills: 7 things to know

Springfield (Vt.) Hospital, a nonprofit, critical access hospital, is struggling to pay its bills  amid budget woes, according to VTDigger.

Seven things to know:

1. The hospital's hardships reportedly have affected its  employees and community members. Physicians told VTDigger they have had trouble getting  supplies, with one saying he and other lab technicians have borrowed supplies from other facilities. Some also say the hospital's health insurance payments have been late. Some local businesses reportedly no longer work with the hospital, and some physicians have left the organization.

Tony Masuck, a pathologist who said he is leaving the hospital Jan. 1, said of the situation: "The whole administration seems in their own little world. It's very unnerving and very frustrating."

2. The hospital's CFO, Scott Whittemore, has left. Springfield Hospital CEO Tim Ford announced the departure in a Dec. 3 letter to hospital employees, but he did not disclose a reason, according to the report.

This year "has been a challenging year in many respects," Mr. Ford wrote. "We missed several of our financial targets, primarily due to declining revenues and increasing benefits and locum expenses."

3. The hospital said it expects to name a temporary CFO soon. It also expects to receive a report on its finances from independent consultant Quorum Health Resources in February or March, VTDigger reported.

4. Springfield Hospital saw an operating deficit of $3.8 million in fiscal year 2017, and its net patient revenue that year was $52 million, down from $55.9 million in fiscal year 2015 and $53.6 million in fiscal year 2016, according to the report, which cites state documents. Results for fiscal year 2018 are not yet reported. However, hospital administrators several months ago projected an operating loss of $2.5 million for fiscal year 2018.

5. Vermont's Green Mountain Care Board, which oversees the state's hospitals, is aware of Springfield Hospital's financial situation. The regulatory body told VTDigger that it does not know of any inappropriate conduct but is keeping an eye on the hospital.

6. When hospital leaders submitted the fiscal year 2019 budget  to the care board, they said: "Access to the appropriate care in the appropriate setting for all residents of our service area remains paramount in our planning and our day-to-day operations. Given our difficult payer mix, challenging demographics, economic outlook, the comparatively poor health status of our residents and the ever-increasing social challenges (poverty, low educational attainment, drug use, crime, etc.), this represents a formidable challenge."

7. Anna Smith, a hospital spokesperson, told VTDigger the hospital is "working diligently to improve cash flow," and the report from Quorum "is an important part of that process."

Access VTDigger's report here.


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