Archive for Friday, February 14, 2003

KU Med patients increase 21 percent

February 14, 2003

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— The closing of two Kansas City-area hospitals apparently have taken a toll on KU Med.

The hospital affiliated with Kansas University saw a 21 percent increase in patients during the fiscal year ending June 30, 2002, according to an annual report released Thursday.

The increase was especially dramatic in the emergency department, which saw an increase of 30 percent.

"We're very busy, but that's why we're adding on to the building," said Irene Cumming, KU Med's president and CEO. "We're not turning patients away, and our emergency room isn't going on diversion, so that's a sign we're keeping up."

KU Med is adding about 80,000 square feet to its main building at the KU Medical Center campus. It adds a 22-bed medical-surgical unit and a 14-bed intensive care unit.

The hospital also is more than doubling the size of its Cancer Center. The projects together cost $27 million.

Cumming said she thought the closing of Trinity Lutheran Hospital and Bethany Medical Center in Kansas City led to the increase in patients at KU Med.

But the numbers already had been on the rise. Inpatient discharges now have risen 32.7 percent since the hospital became independent of KU in 1998. There were 17,357 discharges last year.

Emergency department visits are up 48 percent during that same time, to 37,838 last year.

The increase in patient visits also means KU Med is covering more uncompensated care from poor patients. The hospital provided $39 million in such care last year, up $10 million from 2001.

Dennis McCulloch, a hospital spokesman, said cutbacks to Medicare and Medicaid, layoffs and the economy also have led to more patients without insurance.

The good news, Cumming said, is that KU Med's financial picture continues to improve, which allows the hospital to cover the uncompensated care.

The hospital's operating revenue increased from $248 million in 2001 to $321 million last year. Operating income increased from $3.2 million to $5.1 million.

Cumming said she was grateful for the hospital's change in management structure in 1998, which separated it from the university. While the KU schools of medicine, allied health and nursing face cuts, the hospital is adding positions and building space.

"Everything is very positive," Cumming said.

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