MHA: St. Mary Hosp's budget: $130M

St. Mary Hosp's budget: $130M

November 10, 2006 Jersey Journal

The Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority has voted a $130 million budget for St. Mary Hospital's first year under its new city ownership.

The city plans to take over operations from the current owners, Bon Secours Health Systems, in a bid to rescue the ailing hospital, which projects a cash loss of $18 million by the end of the year.

The city, which wants to take over operations at the hospital by the new year, hopes it can turn around the hospital's future by increasing revenue and cutting management costs and pension costs.

For the first couple of years, until officials can decide whether the hospital can be saved, they hope to balance the books through increased subsidies: As a publicly owned hospital, it will be entitled to grants to treat patients who do not have medical insurance. The budget shows accountants anticipate $15.8 million in grants.

They also hope to get around $9 million in start-up money from the state and medical insurance payouts.

And, by changing the management company to a new nonprofit, Hudson Healthcare, Inc., the HMO hope to cut management costs from around $5.2 million to $2.5 million. The budget also shows pensions will be cut from $5.1 million to $3.3 million.

But officials say the long-term success of the hospital would be secured by upgrading the hospital with $32 million of improvements, paid for with a $52 million bond.

"I don't know a successful hospital turnaround based on cost cutting, not one," said Harvey Holzberg, a commissioner for the Hospital Authority and future CEO of Hudson Healthcare, Inc.

To become profitable, the hospital must bring in more patients: It's typically at 70 percent of its 212-bed capacity. Just 147 of its 170 staffed beds are currently occupied.

Under the rescue plan, more rooms would be private, making it more attractive for higher paying customers, most with in-suite showers and baths.

Administrators also hope to make the hospital more competitive, with a new facility for treating patients with heart problems, a new CAT scanner, and a maternity ward.

George Crimmins, interim executive director of the HMHA, said a larger emergency room would replace the current one, which takes in 30,000 patients a year, three times its capacity.

And Holzberg said that he plans to raise the prestige of the hospital through affiliations with various educational institutions, and by attracting and retaining more physicians.

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