Hospital considers cost cutters

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 20, 2001

FERRIDAY, La. – Mild weather means less flu and respiratory problems, and less revenue for Riverland Medical Center, according to hospital officials.

Expenses have exceeded revenues at the rural hospital for the last four months, according to information presented at a meeting of the hospital’s board earlier this week.

For November, the hospital received $1,883,000 in revenues, $473,000 below normal for that month. Revenue after adjustments stood at $777,000 for the month – compared to expenses of $998,000, Assistant Administrator William Rucker confirmed.

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&uot;That’s mostly due to the fact that we’ve had excellent weather,&uot; Rucker said. &uot;The cold weather is when people get the flu and respiratory problems, especially elderly people. So the good weather’s been good for them, but it’s meant less revenue for us.&uot;

As of Thursday, about 20 people were receiving inpatient care at Riverland, compared to about 30 people in a typical December, Rucker said.

The hospital was also in the red for three months prior to December.

Administrator Vernon Stevens has pointed out that in recent years, cuts in Medicaid reimbursements have made it harder for already struggling small hospitals in rural areas to make ends meet.

Less than 80 percent of Riverland’s patients are Medicaid or Medicare patients, according to hospital figures.

Hospital officials are looking at several possibilities to cut costs and help get Riverland on a better financial footing.

A hiring freeze and reduction of overtime are two measures that will start immediately.

&uot;We’re looking at anything we can do to cut expenses without affecting the quality of care,&uot; Rucker said.