Official: Hospital bouncing back

By Gabriel Monte: CNJ staff writer

Tight budgeting and slow growth of competition has brought the Plains Regional Medical Center back in black, according to Hospital Administrator Hoyt Skabelund.

The hospital cut 38 positions on Oct. 25 of last year because of lost revenue and further revenue loss anticipated from the Clovis Surgery Center, which opened last November, he said.

“What we’ve found was our revenues would not support the level of staffing that we had,” he said, “and so we had to restructure.”

The hospital has not regained the 38 positions, he said, but 22 employees were able to come back to the organization under different jobs.

“In a terrible circumstance, that was a positive outcome,” he said.

Hospital administrators projected the surgery center would take away about $10 million in surgery business. But the loss of revenue was only about half of what was projected, which made adding two new physicians to the hospital staff possible.

“Their arrival is going to bring not only convenience and high quality of services to the community but will restore business,” he said.

The hospital has generated about $3 million in operations this year, which is 60 percent ahead of what administrators projected.
The profit has allowed the hospital to add services that will hopefully increase revenue, Skabelund said.

The hospital hired a urologist this month and an orthopedist will be arriving in January, according to Skabelund. The urologist, Dr. Edward Pinkos, would be the first urologist the hospital has had in two years, he said.

“People are very pleased with him and doctors seem to be confident in his abilities” he said. “His arrival will help restore the urology business that was lost.”

The orthopedist will perform orthoscopic knee and shoulder surgeries, Skabelund said.

The hospital has also reduced the number of nurses from agencies to tighten its budget, Skableund said.

“That’s been grandly successful, the reduction — almost entire elimination — of agency staffing in nursing,” he said.

Despite the cuts Skabelund said patient volume has not justified increasing hospital support staff.

“I don’t feel that we’ve ever felt understaffed anymore than any other hospital in the country,” he said. “We’ve actually been able to shift away from an exclusive focus on finances to now the day-to-day management of making the best hospital we can for the community.”