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SMRC sees fewer patients in March, revenue doesn’t rise

UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Center officials hope new services will bring more patients to the hospital. (Rio Rancho Observer—Sterling Fluharty photo)

UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Center officials hope new services will bring more patients to the hospital. (Rio Rancho Observer—Sterling Fluharty photo)

RIO RANCHO, N.M. — University of New Mexico Sandoval Regional Medical Center has felt some recent pressure, as revenues have once again fallen short of projections and major site visits by accrediting agencies are just a few weeks away.

Darlene Fernandez, interim director of finance, sparked a discussion at Wednesday’s hospital board meeting with her report that SRMC’s net income was a $5.7 million loss for the year.

At last month’s board meeting, UNM Chancellor for Health Sciences Dr. Paul Roth acknowledged the hospital staff for pulling out of financial losses and moving into a projected period of positive revenues.

Fernandez pointed out patient days, discharges, outpatient clinic visits, emergency department visits and operations were each below budget. The number of patient visits has mostly fallen since early March, according to the agenda packet distributed at the meeting.

Roth, UNM Hospitals CEO Steve McKernan, SRMC Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tony Ogburn and UNM Health System Executive Physician-in-Chief Dr. Michael Richards took up the response.

“We’re going, I think, to be in a continuing loss position going out, unless we get the volumes up,” McKernan said. “We need another 10- to 15-percent increase in business to level this off at this point, and, if not, I think we’re going to have losses April through June.”

Roth asked Ogburn about expanding clinical services. Ogburn assured him SRMC had lined up several new physicians, who would boost services and the number of surgeries. That would bring more patients to the hospital and boost revenues by July or August.

Richards talked about measuring the number of patients seen by each doctor at SRMC. He has prepared a report that shows “the overall level of productivity is about 25 percent below the benchmark.” Some providers are already productive enough, but others have room for improvement.

Soon SRMC will have the means to determine “what level of revenues we should see associated with our current professional workforce,” which will allow “much better financial forecasting for the facility,” Richards said.

Roth suggested the administration could present a four-month plan with metrics at the next board meeting.

Site visits

On May 2, the American College of Surgeons will survey the SRMC bariatric program, which hopes to shift from provisional to full accreditation, Jamie Silva-Steele, interim president and CEO, said in her report.

Teresa Royer, executive director of quality management at UNM Hospitals, talked about SRMC’s shift to a new system of accreditation with The Joint Commission, which has already happened for the rest of UNM Health Systems.

Silva-Steele said the hospital’s current accreditation with DNV Healthcare Inc. expires Aug. 15.

“The cycle to joint commission usually takes six to 12 months and we’re doing it in about two,” Royer said of her recent work at SRMC.

SRMC expects the commission to visit May 20 and then again in the summer.

The hospital does not know exactly when the follow-up visit will occur, but it expects it will have addressed 30 or so findings from the three-day TJC visit, which is designed to detect 7,000 different vulnerabilities, she said.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services would schedule a visit to SRMC if the hospital fails to fix high-risk vulnerabilities, which Royer described as “the worst thing that could happen to us.”