News Column

Low on cash, Lewis General Hospital has no planned cuts yet

May 29, 2014

By Christina Scanlon, Watertown Daily Times, N.Y.

May 29--LOWVILLE -- Faced with an $11 million debt to Lewis County and less than 15 days of operating cash on hand, the Lewis County General Hospital board of managers Wednesday received a modification plan from its finance committee that contained no budget cuts.

"We're still discussing them," said Eric R. Burch, hospital CEO, concerning budget cuts that were not in the plan despite a mandate from the board last week to include them.

Hospital board members retreated into executive session for about 40 minutes during the meeting.

Jeffery W. Hellinger, interim chief financial officer, called the 13 items proposed to address the budget shortfalls an "action plan."

The hospital has already implemented several of the plan's ideas. Others could be considered standard business practices.

At the top of the list is restoring an orthopedic presence at the hospital.

Earlier this month Dr. Jeffrey C. Gundel was suspended following his arrest for allegedly providing oxycodone to an undercover Drug Enforcement Administration officer. A new orthopedic specialist is expected to begin next week in a 90-day trial period. An official announcement has not yet been made.

Dermatology services are expected to be launched in August. That extra revenue was not included in the original 2014 budget.

The proposed plan calls for improvement in managing third-party contracts, surgical efficiency and volume, clinic patient volume and various ancillary services.

What's more, the plan aims to finalize an affiliation with St. Joseph's Hospital Health Center, Syracuse. The goal there is to monitor and maintain inpatient acute census and case mix, optimize process and flow in the emergency room and formalize telemedicine services.

Funding already projected in the budget from grants and critical access designation was part of the plan.

A pharmaceutical discount program, which also brings in revenue, may expand to Carthage and Harrisville pharmacies as part of the proposed plan. Falls Pharmacy in Lyons Falls recently opted out of participating in the program.

The action plan can be viewed at


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Source: Watertown Daily Times (NY)

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