Like the whole town, Mammoth Hospital has suffered due to the poor snow year and lack of visitors. Hospital officials have responded with an across the Board plan for employees to take one unpaid day off per pay period.
Hospital CEO Gary Myers said of the lack of snow, “We have definitely been affected. The Emergency Department and Orthopedics drive some measurability of profit. With the Mountain down very significantly,” he said, “our numbers are down. Healthcare is a function of people in town.”
Myers added that the hospital’s clinics remain very strong. He said, “We’re meeting our mission of healthcare for the local community.” Of the overall hospital condition, Myers said it’s not a dire situation, but the hospital will be lucky to break even this year. For the last 3 to 4 years, Mammoth Hospital, said Myers, has had a 6 to 7% margin.
The CEO praised the staff for holding down expenses and for cooperating in a new Flexing Program. Myers said there could have been lay offs, but the decision was made to take time off to save money. Said Myers, “We made a decision as an organization. Everyone, from myself to housekeeping will take time off.”
Myers said the Hospital has asked people to take their paid vacation time off, and, he said, workers are compelled to take one day off per pay period. He said, “It’s not a hard hit. We don’t want to lose anyone.” Now, just like the rest of the town, the Hospital looks forward to a busy summer season ahead. Myers feels confident in the condition of Mammoth Hospital. He said the organization has 195 days of cash on hand. “And,” he said, “we’re all hoping for a good snow year next year. This year we lost all the major holidays because of no snow.”
Aside from the local conditions that impact all businesses, Mammoth Hospital faces other challenges. Myers said the Affordable Care Act is changing the payment environment. The federal government has required other changes. Myers said the Accountable Care Organization focuses on the highest risk patients and requires hospitals to care for them on an outpatient basis before their chronic conditions grow worse. Mammoth hired a new Nurse Practitioner to do this work, which borders on social service. The idea, Myers said, is for a number of organizations to keep tabs on the same people they all help.
Myers said he and Northern Inyo Hospital’s CEO joined a lot of other rural hospital administrators for a meeting in Reno recently. Myers said all the institutions are struggling. Most have had to convert to Electronic Health Records – computerized health care. It’s changing the way care is delivered and in many cases placing a burden on health care providers, who will also launch into a new bureaucratic coding system in October – another unfunded mandate from the federal government.
The financial challenge, Myers said, is the greatest issue with a low volume year and lots of challenges in-house. He said, “We’re asking staff to cut back but to get more done.”