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Archive for Saturday, May 15, 1999

LMH GIVES ITSELFCHECKUP

May 15, 1999

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Lawrence Memorial Hospital trustees are committed to a seven-point strategic plan that addresses staffing, patients and technology, the head of the hospital said.

Lawrence Mayor Erv Hodges hasn't been a patient at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, but as a city commissioner, he said he knows what challenges the city-owned hospital faces.

Hodges has seen the audit detailing the $1.13 million deficit at the hospital in 1998. He knows about the decreases in Medicare payments, and the increases in bad debts and charity care that contributed to that number.

But he knows the hospital can't cut its losses by cutting services or rejecting patients who aren't able to pay. Hodges spoke to about 100 people at "Journey to Excellence," the LMH community reception Wednesday night at the hospital.

"A business is able to prune losing product lines, drop the ones that aren't profitable," Hodges said, contrasting a business' reactions to a harsh financial quarter to the hospital's responsibility to Lawrence.

The Medicare cuts -- an estimated $4.7 million at LMH over five years -- brought on by congressional budget trimming hit the hospital hard, he said.

"When you're faced with a reduction of that size, the logical step is to reduce services. We can't take that logical step," he said.

LMH President and CEO Gene Meyer invited people to sign a letter asking Kansas congressional members to reconsider the effects of the budget legislation.

"We need to be heard," he said.

Meyer led the group through the hospital's seven-point strategic plan. Among the goals are recruiting and retaining quality staff members, a readiness for managed care programs and technology updates.

Meyer said the number of surgeries and births were up last year, a sign that patients trust the hospital. In the coming year, he said, the hospital will stress oncology -- the study of tumors -- and obstetrics/gynecology services.

Donna Bell, chair of the LMH board of trustees, thanked the hospital employees and Lawrence residents.

"Our community has displayed its support in so many ways," Bell said. "We're excited the community is taking this journey with us. We welcome your interest, your input and your company."

-- Chris Koger's phone message number is 832-7126. His e-mail address is ckoger@ljworld.com.

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