Natchez Regional numbers down

Published 12:05 am Wednesday, March 4, 2009

NATCHEZ — The last quarter of 2008 wasn’t a good one for Natchez Regional Medical Center.

In October, November and December, the hospital’s census was down and those low numbers, coupled with problems in the months preceding that quarter, translated to a loss of revenue and now to some layoffs.

Hospital CEO Scott Phillips said the newly released employees and other cost cutting measures are necessary.

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“We’re matching our resources to our revenue,” Phillips said. “Our revenue was off target, and we had to keep our expenses down.”

Not only was the hospital’s census down from an average of 60 patients per day to approximately 50, but Hurricane Gustav knocked out the facility’s operating rooms for close to one month, and the roadwork in front of the hospital slowed traffic to the emergency room, Phillips said.

Phillips said it was late November or December when the loss of revenue had to be combated with cost cuts.

The hospital needed to cut its expenses by nearly $4 million, Phillips said.

To date it has eliminated $3 million in spending.

“This is part of responsible management,” he said.

And Phillips noted that while the hospital has let approximately a dozen workers go since December, it still has a larger staff than Natchez Community Hospital.

Those cuts were made in several departments.

Cuts that didn’t come from staff reduction came in the form of overtime elimination.

And some staff is not being called to work due to fewer patients.

All the recent changes at the hospital prompted one hospital board member to meet with Phillips and hospital attorney Walter Brown for clarification.

Dan Bland, president of the hospital’s board of trustees, said he was pleased with the outcome of a Tuesday meeting.

“I think it went great,” he said. “I wanted to air everything out.”

Phillips said he also thought the meeting was a good way to provide clarity on the current situation at the hospital.

However, Phillips said no major changes will come as a result of the meeting.

Bland did say he requested a meeting between the hospital board, Adams County Board of Supervisors and the party slated to purchase the hospital.

Phillips said he is trying to schedule that meeting.