Southwest Memorial Hospital continues to make progress on its financial recovery, CEO Tony Sudduth said during a public forum Wednesday.
“We’re having an excellent year in 2019 and continue to see pretty substantial growth,” he said.
The hospital is on track for a $6.5 million increase in net revenue for 2019. Operating expenses are also down, in part because of the layoffs of 40 staff last August.
Southwest forecasts $1 million in profits by the end of the year, compared with a $6.9 million loss at the end of 2018, said Sudduth, who was hired in April 2018 to implement a turnaround plan.
Days cash on hand, a measure of financial health, also is strengthening, growing from an all-time low of 15 days in March 2018 to 49 days this month.
Southwest Health System, which operates the hospital, is required to have 81 days cash on hand, or $13.3 million. It takes $165,000 per day to operate the hospital.
The cash reserve shortfall violates a bonding agreement that funded a recently completed $32 million expansion. A forbearance agreement requires Southwest Health to meet a timeline of cash-on-hand improvement, and SHS is ahead of schedule, expecting to reach 65 days by the end of the year.
Sudduth said SHS continues to work toward the goal of improving access to family practice, internal medicine and orthopedic surgery services.
A nurse practitioner, Melissa Sims, was hired to serve family practice needs. Dr. Kenneth Ness, and Dr. Charlotte Barry were hired for internal medicine services. Also 0rthopedic surgeon Dr. Doug Bagge’s contract was renewed.
To fill service gaps in surgery and orthopedics, the hospital is working with Rural Partners in Medicine to bring in medical providers that will fill service gaps in surgery and orthopedics.
“They will be establishing part-time practices in the area,” Sudduth said.
SHS also has a more aggressive marketing strategy to attract more patients, he said. It is promoting a new state-of-the art Women’s Center and is expanding surgery services and the sleep program.
Studies show that 55 percent of the medical care provided to Montezuma County residents is provided outside the county, and officials want to reduce that number.
A recent survey shows that when compared with other hospitals for Medicare services, Southwest earned four out of five stars for 2019, compared with three stars in 2018.
There was concern earlier this year that Colorado health care legislation could hurt rural providers, but its impacts did not have the adverse impact feared.
“As a rural provider, we must make sure that the legislature understands the unique nature of rural health care and how decreases in reimbursement can gravely affect these providers,” Sudduth said.