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Medical Monday 6.2.14: Houlton Regional Hospital Deal With Budget Challenges…Qualitative Patient Care Still First, Primary Focus…

| June 5, 2014

MEDMONHRHBUDGETWEB from WAGM-TV on Vimeo.

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The rising cost of healthcare doesn’t just impact patients, it can also affect a hospital’s bottom line. Houlton Regional Hospital has endured some major money challenges forcing them to make some major changes to healthcare services. Its this week’s Medical Monday with Shawn Cunningham.

Its been a tough few years financially for Houlton Regional Hospital. The healthcare site’s operating costs are in critical condition says HRH CEO Tom Moakler.

“The last three years here like other hospitals in the state have not been good, our operating costs have increased from a minor loss or break even last year we actually lost over three million dollars,” says Moakler.

Moakler says the fiscal woes weren’t a complete surprise. In fact, the hospital administration planned for them and implemented some changes including the closure of their progressive care unit and transferring the rights to nursing home beds over to Madigan Estates.

Moakler attributes the money problems to three things…

-INCREASE IN FREE CARE (Moakler says just last year they ate 1.8 million dollars in free care expenses)

-INCREASE IN DEBT EXPENSE (he says THIS YEAR, its more than doubled and they’ll shell out more 2 million dollars in debt expense)

-DECREASE IN PATIENT VOLUME

Moakler adds “our in patient admissions are down ten percents, patient days are down twenty percent we’ve gone from five thousand patient days to four thousand.”

Moakler says one positive thing that has lowered patient volume is the success of the hospital’s case management program. He says case workers are helping to ensure there are less patient readmissions.

“Alot of times you get to know people over time so when we’re talking to them we can tell well this person’s short of breath maybe something’s going on so there are times that problems can be nipped in the bud to prevent a readmission,” says Kim Fox, a Case Manager for Houlton Regional Hospital.

Moakler touts no layoffs have occurred during the budget challenges. He says while costs may increase, so is staff’s resolve to maintain qualitative patient care throughout it all.

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