Officials are moving forward on a plan of action designed to restore financial stability to Monroe County Hospital.
On April 4, the Monroe County Commission is expected to approve an agreement to earmark $1.2 million annually for the hospital over the next two to three years, Chairman Greg Tapley said.
That comes on the heels of an up to 1-mill property tax increase approved overwhelmingly by voters through a nonbinding referendum March 21. A commission vote to approve the expenditure is required, he said.
The county may be able to avert a full 1-mill increase come budget time to reach the $1.2 million, Tapley said.
An $800,000 budget surplus, for example, would mean increasing the tax rate by just 0.33 mills to generate the remaining $400,000 needed, he explained.
“The big picture is we’re not going to spend more than we have to,” Tapley said.
Once the millage rate is set at the close of budget discussions in July and August, property tax owners can expect the anticipated increase on bills due October through December.
In order to work, Tapley said, the action plan requires complete buy-in support from the hospital staff, community and Navicent Health, which is managing the hospital in cooperation with the Monroe Hospital Authority and commissioners.
“Right now, I’d like to believe we’re going to turn things around,” he said.
Darren Pearce, the hospital’s chief administrative officer, said he thinks the plan is viable.
The plan includes cutting down overhead costs and “shrinking the hospital” by about three-fourths of its current size, he said.
Basically, the hospital will be consolidated to the first floor of the two-floor hospital building. The hospital would include emergency care, five to 10 beds, an operating room and outpatient services such as lab and imaging, Pearce said.
“But it would all be consolidated into a much smaller space,” he said. “And then the rest of hospital, we’ll be looking to lease out to a partner that needs to utilize those available beds, so that the hospital remains viable, continues to be full.”
The plan includes a reduction of up to 25 percent of the workforce, mostly part-time positions, Pearce said. He expects those affected to be absorbed and employed by Navicent partners.
Also, about 10 percent of the workforce reduction likely has already happened from attrition due to uncertainty of the hospital before Tuesday’s vote to save it, he said.
The $1.2 million in tax revenues is expected to split between an annual budget shortfall and hospital debt, with the largest shortfall of $750,000 anticipated in 2017. As that goes down, more of the tax revenues will used toward $10 million in total debt, according to a copy of plan.
Meanwhile, the plan also calls for increasing annual revenue by $750,000 by improving services and marketing those services. The hospital wants to convince those with commercial insurance and Medicare to use the local hospital.
Additionally, the plan includes about $1 million in improvements, from a $250,000 computer upgrade to a $215,000 X-ray upgrade and $70,000 in new beds.
“There are a lot of opportunities. ... We want to find our niche,” Pearce said.