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Archive for Thursday, November 29, 2001

Hospital forecasts healthy 2002

November 29, 2001

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Despite spiraling costs to treat the city's poor, Lawrence Memorial Hospital is expected to double its profit next year.

Hospital officials approved a 2002 budget Wednesday. The document forecasts about $4 million in profit and expanded services for patients. Forecast net profit for 2001 is about $2 million, though final numbers for the year won't be certain until February.

Also, LMH's projected net revenue for 2002 is expected to reach an all-time high of $91.1 million. That's an increase of nearly 10 percent over 2001, according to the budget hospital trustees approved Wednesday.

"That growth in net revenue speaks to the additional services LMH is providing to our community. It also reflects a continued confidence in LMH, as a result of people choosing to use our services," said Gene Meyer, the hospital's chief executive officer.

LMH a nonprofit organization will reinvest the money back into the hospital in the form of expanded services and medical equipment upgrades, Meyer said.

Helping drive the projected increase is LMH's mental health unit, which expects to see a 26 percent increase in the number of patients it will treat.

The unit has increased its focus on senior-care services, trying to meet behavioral and health needs of an older population, officials said.

"By developing this specialized focus, we're actually expecting to reach people we haven't reached before," said Janice Early Weas, LMH's director of community relations.

On the outpatient side, officials anticipate increased activity in a number of areas, such as the emergency and radiology departments.

LMH added chemotherapy and other cancer treatments in 2000. In 2002, the hospital will start to offer radiation therapy for cancer, as well.

"We've exceeded all of our projections (for oncology) this year, and we expect to see more patients next year. Chemotherapy and radiation are services that people were leaving our community to get," Early Weas said.

Other outpatient increases are projected for LMH South, 3500 Clinton Parkway Place, in the areas of physical therapy, endoscopy and radiology.

The hospital's total capital budget for next year is a little more than $5 million, with 10 expenditures costing more than $100,000 apiece.

Heading that list are $800,000 to replace LMH's laboratory information system and about $500,000 for major upgrades to CT Scan equipment at LMH South and the hospital.

The 2002 budget projects a net profit of $4 million, and LMH will commit $2.3 million to charity care in 2002.

That's how much the hospital will write off in order to cover the cost of care provided to people who aren't able to pay for it.

So far this year, LMH has written off $1.6 million in charity care 39 percent more than the $1.1 million budgeted for that purpose.

"This is reflective of the economic times the country finds itself in, with people having to pay large insurance premium increases and companies facing the possibility of layoffs," Meyer said.

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