Lincoln Health System ended fiscal year 2019 with a loss of $3.268 million, according to financial reports reviewed by its board of trustees last week, and while that loss is slightly under recent projections, it’s still a far cry from budget.

System-wide, the budget called for the LHS to clear $109,055 for the fiscal year, which ended June 30.

Breaking those figures down, FY 2019 losses came at $2.975 million for Lincoln Medical Center, compared to a budgeted loss of $1.464 million, $1.355 million for the Physician Clinics, compared to a budgeted loss of $955,323, and $275,094 for Emergency Medical Services, compared to a budgeted gain of $5,480.

Profitable margins, however, were seen at Lincoln-Donalson Care Center, which made $629,693, Patrick Rehab & Wellness, $556,099, and Home Health and Hospice, $152,141. Those margins compared to the budgeted amounts of $1.727 million, $443,900, and $352,281, respectively.

Chief Financial Officer Bob Lonis told board members Tuesday that the number one area for improvement is in the emergency room at the medical center. ER visits were down about eight percent from previous year, he said, noting that the former ER medical director had resigned. The system’s contracted physician group, which provides care to the ER, will be providing a replacement for the position. In addition, the system is seeking an ICU/ED nurse director, a position which was also recently vacated. That position is posted, and officials hope to fill it soon, he said.

“When we have a new ER medical director, it will be one of the first areas to address,” Lonis said, adding that between the ER, Lab and CT Department, and Outpatient Services, revenues were down about $8.4 million for FY 2019. “The ER activity was the biggest driver for the loss of revenues.”

The system is advertising for candidates for several top leadership positions. Among others, those include the health system’s chief executive officer’s position, which former CEO Russ Spray will assume this week on an interim basis.

Hopes are that new leadership will take the system in a more positive direction. Lonis said that July showed some improvement; however, finalized financial reports weren’t available with the recent retirement of the system’s comptroller.

Katie Stovall, director of LHS Marketing, has begun a campaign to improve the public’s perception of the health system. Residents can now go to the LHS or Lincoln-Donalson Care Center Facebook pages and submit questions as part of the “Who, What, When, Where, Why, Wednesday” campaign – responses to the questions are posted each week. Patient or resident activities and testimonials are also being posted there.

In her report, Carrie Rogers, director of quality and patient safety, said that bringing the infusion service in-house has been a big win for the system. She reported that in August the department had experienced its best so far. The hospitalist conversion was scheduled to be implemented by Sept. 1.

Having received clearance from the Tennessee attorney general to proceed with selling two of its vacant properties, the old Lincoln Care Center on Amana Avenue and the former Home Health building on Wilson Parkway, system officials are reviewing their book values and planning to adjust them down to market value as they move toward selling at least one of the properties.

In other discussion, Lonis noted that the Lincoln County Commission approved a lease agreement for an ambulance EMS is expected to receive in September.

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