Veterans Memorial Hospital continues to show slow improvement while battling nationwide healthcare trends

The month of November ended with a loss of $31,534 for Veterans Memorial Hospital (VMH) in Waukon, according to information presented at the hospital’s board of trustees meeting held December 18. Year-to-date, the hospital is showing a loss of $433,216.

VMH Administrator Mike Myers noted that hospital officials are “accruing everything right now so there will be no surprises at the end of the (fiscal) year.” He was cautiously optimistic that December may bring some better news. “We are slowly getting things turned around and it shows, but it takes time,” Myers said.

The hospital’s operating expenses were down 12.9% compared to last November. Supplies also decreased 86.3% compared to last November, due in part to a decrease in drug purchases. Salary and benefits have also decreased compared to last November, and the staff continues to look at ways to reduce expenses in light of current healthcare trends. Myers said the goal for the hospital is to decrease expenditures by $1,000,000.

The hospital was continuing to negotiate with Hartig Drug in December for pharmaceutical services. The Fire Marshall and State Survey were also successfully submitted for the hospital facility.

Myers noted that the Urgent Care service began at the hospital November 18 and saw a “significant” increase in visits. “We have had a few bugs to work out, but we’re getting them,” Myers noted of the new service.

Myers also advised that nationwide, as well as locally, trends in healthcare are down. For the month of November, acute patient days were up for VMH, but down year-to-date. “Most of our services mirror the national trends of being down year-to-date,” he said. Acute inpatient days at VMH have been down, obstetrics (OB) services have been down and swing bed days have also been down.

Myers also stated that he had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Mayo Health System on the former Waukon clinic. Officials are working with Mayo to complete the transition of the clinic building following the clinic’s closure in mid-December of this past year.

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