Massena Memorial lost more than $5 million in 2017; CFO says operation deficit was less than 2016
Monday, January 22, 2018 - 7:53 pm

By ANDY GARDNER

MASSENA -- After losing $1.8 million in December, Massena Memorial Hospital finished 2017 more than $5 million in the red, but financial documents show they generated more income than last year and ended with a smaller loss from operations.

“We did better than the previous year, it’s not exactly where we want to be but it’s better than the previous year by $1.2 million … generated $6 million more net revenue than the previous year because of new physicians, new services,” MMH CFO Pat Facteau said.

According to a financial and statistical summary made public at Monday’s Board of Managers meeting, MMH lost $5,518,707 in 2017, compared to an overall net loss of $901,101 at the end of 2016.

The numbers to which Facteau referred were the hospital’s loss from operations, which doesn’t include non-operating revenues or expenses. Those are tallied in to calculate the overall net loss.

According to the summary, the 2017 operating loss was $5,646,000 and in 2016 was $6,775,000. The operating revenue for 2017 was $54,050,000 and in 2016 was $48,539,000.

Facteau said their $1.8 million for December was mostly caused by patients volumes below their budget, and the CEO says they are addressing how to head off that problem in 2018.

“We had a really low volume month. It was substantially below where we budgeted … it just was really, really low in regards to the revenues,” Facteau said. “We had some health insurance expenses … one expense to value the inventory … and make an adjustment for that, about $100,000. The real issue was substantially lower volumes.”

The financial and statistical summary says their observation visits were about well below their expectations, 49 compared to the budgeted 80. And outpatient registrations were slightly below their plans, 10,144 actual compared to 10,684 budgeted. Inpatient discharges were above budget, 184 compared to the expected 163, the summary says.

MMH CEO Bob Wolleben said officials are talking about what they can do to prevent big losses this year.

“We’ve made adjustments to our supply expenses … we’ve canceled contracts that don’t add value to our organization … we’re reviewing open positions to see if they need to be filled,” he said. “We just had a meeting with our doctors about their offices and what we can expect to see in terms of volume, we had a very productive meeting … [talking] about how patients are referred from practices like surgery, etc. to share their referral reports.

“We hope in time that will bear some fruit in terms of additional volume.”

While their admissions and emergency visits were up slightly for the year, their surgeries were just below 2016.

“We missed the mark by 30 cases. Dr. [Henri] Gaborieau, his practice is getting busier and we’ve got some additional Da Vinci cases being done,” Wolleben said.

The Da Vinci in a surgical tool used to perform minimally invasive procedures.

The head of MMH’s CSEA chapter questioned their use of the device at a time when she says positions are being cut.

“I know there’s been some cutbacks on staffing. With this DaVinci tool, I’ve heard it’s $18,000 a month for rental. Are we actually making $18,000 a month to at least break even? Without leasing that, it would save us a lot of jobs,” union president Kerri French asked.

Wolleben said her figure was wrong, and they are paying $15,200 a month on a lease. He says they acquired it to stay competitive in the region and they need to perform a few procedures per month to break even.

“Some of the other hospitals around us have the Da Vinci and it’s a less invasive procedure and the expectation” is more patients, he said. “These might be patients that would have gone elsewhere … It’s a relatively small number of cases a month to pay for this, fewer than eight.

“We didn’t make this decision cavalierly … a lot of hospitals buy these things and are tied into it forever and ever.”

MMH nursing chief Raylene North said they have added operating room staff for Da Vinci procedures, who along with two physicians have undergone special training related to the machine, and a third surgeon is now being trained.