The award recognized the medical complex’s continuing support of Middle Georgia Technical College in Warner Robins. The nomination package featured a number of initiatives by Houston Healthcare this year including the transfer of ten acres of land for college expansion, donation of $75,000 to the foundation, the gift of excess computer equipment, volunteer assistance and other actions.
Mike O’Hara, Houston Healthcare’s vice president for human resources, and Houston Healthcare System, Inc. Board member Larry Warnock attended the awards banquet and accepted the recognition for the local system.
O’Hara said Houston Healthcare won against formidable competition. “We stepped up to the plate and even batted against Hank Aaron and his wife,” O’Hara said with a broad grin following Wednesday evening’s System Board meeting at Houston Medical Center in Warner Robins. “They had given the Atlanta Technical College a check for about $104,000.”
Also at the Wednesday evening System Board session, members unanimously approved merit increases of up to two percent for Houston Healthcare employees based on supervisory recommendations.
O’Hara said the merit increase process has already begun with an overall budget this cycle of $1.9 million.
“It will conclude in November,” he reported, “and the merit increase will be paid beginning with the first pay period in December.”
Employees may also receive pay increases due to experience and the results from wage surveys conducted by the local system, O’Hara added.
“That gives us a three-pronged approach to remain competitive,” he said, “although the experience and wage survey elements are objective components.”
Board member Jack Ragland introduced the merit pay increase measure.
“We want to express our appreciation to all our workers,” he said, “and this is one way we can do it.”
In other business, the board voted to move the cardio-vascular rehabilitation unit from the Main Tower to the Northwest Tower lower lobby. The $220,000 project will take about two to three months, hospital officials said, and will give patients much easier access to the facility.
Chief Financial Officer Sean Whilden’s presentation focused on the growing bad debt and charity expenses for the county wide system. Charges in those two categories already exceed those of last year by two percent with four months remaining in the fiscal year.
“Uncompensated care charges are 10.48 percent of total charges,” Whilden told the System Board. “That is a significant increase.”
Bad debt and charity write-offs total $45.6 million so far this year compared to $32.9 million last year at this time. The not-for-profit system receives no tax support from local governments.
Overall, Houston Healthcare’s financial picture remains positive with net income of $405,000 during the month of August, although that is considerably lower than the $2.27 million recorded last August. The difference is largely due to charity and bad debt write-offs, Whilden emphasized.
Houston Medical Center accounted for $399,000 net income for the month, although that number is down considerably from the roughly $2 million gain reported in August of 2011.
Operating income at Perry Hospital showed a $4,000 loss for August although overall income exceeds total expenses by $1. 2 million for the fiscal year that began in January.
Emergency Medical Services also lost money in August, with expenses exceeding income by $21,000. Whilden said the primary drivers were higher fuel costs and unexpected repairs. Overall, EMS has posted a $48,000 gain for the fiscal year.