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Flu boosts Pardee's financial health

Charlie Messer receives a plaque from Bill Moyer as CEO Jay Kirby looks on. Charlie Messer receives a plaque from Bill Moyer as CEO Jay Kirby looks on.

The flu made Pardee Hospital healthier.


The county-owned hospital's gross operating margin for October through December — the first quarter of its 2013 fiscal year — was $2.8 million, $318,000 ahead of budget and $1.1 million better than 2011, Treasurer Bill Smith reported at the Board of Directors meeting last week. Net operating margin was $700,000, $531,000 ahead of budget.
"I think this is the best first quarter since I've been on the board, if not close to it," said Smith, who was appointed in 2006.
More patient admissions and greater use of the ER and urgent care clinic all contributed to the jump in revenue, administrators said.
In another look at finances, auditor Steven D. Stang of the LarsonAllen firm of Charlotte, reported on what he described as "a strong balance sheet" for the fiscal year ending on Sept. 30. Revenues rose by 4 percent and expenses rose by 3.9 percent. "You're running less than 1 percent operating margin, " he said. "Ideally, you'd like to see that a 3 percent margin going forward."
Investment income of $2.94 million helped boost the bottom line, and cash rose to $826,000. Cash on hand, a measure of a hospital's ability to meet obligations in the ups and downs of patient census and reimbursements, held mostly steady at 136 days, down slightly from 141 days in 2011.
The hospital's debt-to-equity ratio inched down from 11 percent to 9 percent, a number that puts Pardee among the financial leaders by that measure. Most hospitals in North Carolina run a ratio of 35 to 40 percent, Stang said.
CEO Jay Kirby said that the hospital had adopted an aggressive budget for the 2013 fiscal year and had recorded strong gains in urgent care and the emergency room. The budget projected a flat patient census but instead the hospital showed an 8 percent gain.
"The flu played a big part in that but we also have put initiatives into place to boost those numbers," Kirby said.
Board chairman Bill Moyer said the master facility plan committee will begin looking at how Pardee can best make use of its property. "How do we make our campus look a little less cluttered, how do we make our entrance look better, what do we do with all the buildings we have?" Moyer said, describing the facility's charge.

Pardee thanks Dr. Pyles

The Board of Directors welcomed Michael Edney as the non-voting County Commission representative on the board, replacing Charlie Messer, and Dr. Ed Lilly as chief of staff, replacing Dr. James Horwitz.
"I didn't know what to expect when I was asked to serve on this board," Messer said. "We serve on a lot of boards but this is one I really like."
He said he's learned the back story of what it takes to run the hospital, and praised the hospital administration and staff for its work. People may like or dislike the Affordable Care Act pushed through by President Obama, he said, but the hospital has to prepare for major change.
"It's coming," he said. "We've got to prepare for it or we're going to get left behind."
Kirby praised Dr. Jerry Pyles, an internist who is retiring.
"No matter where you go, no matter who you talked to, the epitome of Pardee Hospital was Dr. Pyles," he said.