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Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital board approves new department, budget recommendations for Fiscal Year 2015

Phoebe creates critical care department effective mid-August

From left, Phoebe Putney Health System CEO Joel Wernick sits in on the Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital board meeting with the board’s chair, John Culbreath, and Joe Austin, chief operating officer of the health system, while the board conducts business Wednesday. The board approved the creation of a critical care medicine department. (Staff Photo: Jennifer Parks)

From left, Phoebe Putney Health System CEO Joel Wernick sits in on the Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital board meeting with the board’s chair, John Culbreath, and Joe Austin, chief operating officer of the health system, while the board conducts business Wednesday. The board approved the creation of a critical care medicine department. (Staff Photo: Jennifer Parks)

ALBANY — A series of meetings Wednesday of the finance committee, professional affairs committee and the full board at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital ended with the hospital’s board taking action on the creation of a new department as well as the budget recommendations for the upcoming fiscal year.

Phoebe has created a new critical care medicine department as part of an effort, officials say, to improve the quality of intensive care at the hospital. Officials say they are creating the department to establish a critical care model including the addition of six board-certified intensivists — in addition to the physicians already on board in the intensive care units — to be led by Dr. Kenneth Kalassian.

These physicians, who are specially trained to treat patients with the most severe and life-threatening illnesses and injuries who require constant, close monitoring and support, will begin caring for patients by mid-August as part of the model. The increased staffing, which includes physicians coming in from as far away as Minnesota, will allow additional time for focusing on critical care patients and is expected to facilitate the incorporation of evidence-base protocols while improving quality and patient safety parameters for those who may need constant monitoring and immediate attention, officials said.

At the same time, officials say bringing in the additional resources may potentially make room for additional patients since the result could be that patients get out of intensive care faster.

“We are always trying to improve what departments we have, and we saw the ability to change our model,” said Dr. Frank Middleton, interim chief medical officer at Phoebe. “It requires additional personnel, physicians and equipment and updating…It will help to have more of a focus on critically ill patients. There are more critically ill patients these days, with people living longer.”

The creation of the new department model was supported by the medical executive committee and professional affairs committee. The physicians will work in Phoebe’s four adult intensive care units, utilizing a total of 50 beds at both Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital and Phoebe North.

In other business, Kerry Loudermilk, chief financial officer for Phoebe Putney Health System, went over the operating and capital budget for Fiscal Year 2015 for the system’s two Albany hospitals. Inpatient days are expected to have a 1.5 percent decrease from the previous fiscal year, while admissions are planned to have a 3 percent decrease. Adjusted admissions are expected to have a .01 percent decrease, while equivalent outpatient days are expected to increase by 3 percent from Fiscal Year 2014.

The gross patient revenue for Fiscal Year 2014 is expected to be $1.39 billion, and $1.42 this upcoming fiscal year. During Fiscal Year 2015, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital is anticipated to have $17.86 million in other operating revenue and $506.51 million in net revenue, while having $3.55 million in non-operating income.

Loudermilk also presented capital expenditure figures through 2017. Over the next few years, expenditures are expected to total $178.28 million, including $50 million into Phoebe North, $24 million in routine equipment, $3.5 million in a new distribution center and $5.2 million in operating room renovations. For the upcoming fiscal year, there is a total of $49.52 million in expenditures anticipated, the CFO’s report said.