Outpatient Move Saves Hospital

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media , January 30, 2012
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This article appears in the January 2012 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

In Aledo, IL, a town of 3,600 tucked in the northwest corner of the state near Iowa, it was a move to outpatient care that saved its 22-licensed-bed critical access Mercer County Hospital, a facility that was nearly shut down because of fiscal and management problems.

The Genesis Health System in Davenport, IA, is in the midst of an agreement with Mercer County, IL, to run the facility. Genesis and Mercer County officials have recommended that it buy the hospital.

When the 670-licensed-bed Genesis system took over operations a few years ago, Mercer had an $800,000 deficit. Genesis began a slow process of changing the hospital culture, with the biggest emphasis on a change in outpatient care, says Ted Rogalski, hospital administrator.

The latest financial figures showed a $500,000 positive margin, with immediate changes in vendor contracts and improved management controls helping to better the hospital's fiscal status, Rogalski says. "It was really putting policies and procedures to ensure that we were collecting dollars owed us," he adds.

Once those financial areas were strengthened, hospital officials then focused on revised clinical improvements, with better outpatient care as a primary target.

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