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Long, Skiff administration, staff deserve pat on back

This week, the Skiff Medical Center Board of Directors received some very exciting news about key numbers stemming from the hospital’s operations. CFO Mike Anderson told the board patient bed days and swing bed days were up substantially from August of last year.

Bed days are up 163 percent, while swing bed days are up 183 percent. Additionally, outpatient visits for the month set an all-time record for Skiff Medical Center, coming right at 7,000 for the month. And while the number of inpatient admissions remained unchanged, these other numbers have had a substantial impact on the hospital’s bottom line.

Patient revenue for the month was $7 million. And, once you’re done accounting for expenses, the hospital ended the month more than $127,000 in the black. And while the hospital’s fiscal year-to-date profits are still negative, the month of August alone reduced that deficit by more than half.

At this time last year, the hospital was more than $500,000 in the hole.

And while some of the improved revenue is directly attributable to a federal funding program Skiff Medical Center is participating in, it should be noted there are still other challenges facing the hospital. Private insurers, such as Wellmark, have decreased their reimbursements for medical care by as much as 20 percent.

If that hadn’t happened, profits could have been higher.

Skiff Medical Center’s importance to the community cannot be understated. The current draft of the City of Newton Comprehensive Plan notes the hospital is a key feature for future development.

Newton’s future success will be determined in many ways by the success Skiff staff has in making the hospital stand on its own two feet in the future. It’s not something that can happen overnight, but this month’s financial numbers would seem to indicate Skiff is on the right path.

So, while there is still much to be done, this is a small victory the community should be celebrating.

And, while we’re at it, CEO Steve Long, the administrators he has put in positions of authority around him and the staff who have implemented the necessary changes at the hospital deserve a big pat on the back for a job well done. This wouldn’t have happened without their foresight, determination and hard work.

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