UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Center continues to accumulate accreditations, expand its operations, see more patients, serve more students and appears ready to break even financially, members of its board of directors learned at its regular meeting last week.
Earlier this month, SRMC received full accreditation for medical services from The Joint Commission, a national accrediting body in health care, and its sleep disorders center received full accreditation from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, CEO Jamie Silva-Steele told the board.
Earlier this summer, the hospital received full approval as a comprehensive metabolic and bariatric surgery accreditation and quality improvement program from the American College of Surgeons Bariatric Surgery Center Network, she added.
“I am very proud of the management, staff and providers for these three very large quality initiatives,” she wrote in her monthly memorandum to the board.
SRMC will open its new iInterventional radiology/cath lab to patients on Sept. 15. The new equipment will allow medical professionals to use X-rays in real-time to guide the procedures they perform on patients. SRMC will serve low-acuity cardiac patients, while heart attack patients will still go to UNM Hospital.
Silva-Steele said the number of patient visits to SRMC had increased. From mid-March to mid-June, the number of visits per day fell to almost 20 below the budgeted amount of 45-50. By mid-July, daily visits peaked at almost 50 and last week the number reached an all-time high.
Dr. Tony Ogburn, chief medical officer at SRMC, told the board about new procedures and providers joining the hospital.
Upper gastrointestinal endoscopy now allows SRMC to insert a small tube into the esophagus, stomach and small intestine to find and remove stones, as well as widen passage ways from a patient’s gut, he said.
An endocrinologist will join the staff in October to treat patients with diabetes, an infectious disease provider will come on board in October or November and, in the next month or two, the behavioral health program will provide addiction medicine services, he said.
Ogburn said the hospital is fulfilling its academic mission as it develops its clinical services. Soon, he said, the number of pharmacy, physical therapy and physician assistant students, as well as residents and fellows, will number 15 to 20 at SRMC. Last year, the hospital peaked with six students and recent graduates in November.
The University of New Mexico and Central New Mexico Community College will each provide eight nursing students for clinical rotations at SRMC this fall, Silva-Steele added.
Chief Financial Officer Darlene Fernandez said the hospital’s payment for the new IR/cath lab equipment in July was about the only thing that kept SRMC from being in the black that month.
The net income for all operations was a loss of $219,000 in July 2014, which was considerably better than SRMC’s operating loss of $1.93 million in July 2013, she added.
Fernandez mentioned problems with Medicaid that have kept SRMC revenues artificially low. She said the state still takes 60-90 days to process applications for new Medicaid patients and another 30 days to process payments.
The hospital has collected only 36 percent of what the state owes SMRC for visits by Medicaid patients in January, she added.
Steve McKernan, chief executive officer of the UNM Health Sciences System, said the Federal Housing Administration, which insured the hospital’s debt, had recently indicated SRMC was doing better financially than any similar hospital in the county.
Dr. Paul Roth, chancellor for Health Sciences, stressed things that make SRMC unique. Unlike for-profit hospitals, SRMC serves the entire community, including patients who might have nowhere else to turn. As voters seek reduced costs and lower taxes, he said he hopes they will continue to fund public institutions such as SRMC.
Near the end of the meeting, former Sandoval County Commissioner Donnie Leonard, was voted onto the board of directors. The UNM Board of Regents and UNM Health Sciences Center Board of Directors will meet jointly Friday to approve his appointment.