After a year under new ownership, Bayonne Medical Center can boast that it has a new lease on life.
While the future path of the hospital may not yet be paved with gold, it turned a modest profit last year, a remarkable comeback for an institution that was bleeding money so badly going into its sale in January 2008 that many local officials predicted its potential demise.
Daniel Kane, executive director of BMC, said part of the reason for the hospital’s recovery came as a result of the combined effort of various people inside and outside the hospital.
Its purchase by IJKG LLC was accompanied by a thorough review of operations and changes that provided better services more efficiently.
“We’re holding our own,” Kane said. “In 2008, we had a modest surplus.”
This, he said, is light years from the conditions that existed in late 2007 prior to the sale.
But he said BMC management is concerned about the troubled economy and its impact on healthcare.
Kane said hospitals across the country are faced with the loss of patients.
Fewer patients, cuts in funding are concerns
Those who have lost their jobs also often lose their health insurance, and others who may have taken on elective surgery in better times have become reluctant to go to the hospital for financial reasons.
On top of this, hospitals have to worry about state and federal reimbursement levels dropping for Medicaid and Charity Care.
“These are not conditions unique to Bayonne,” Kane said. “But they are things we have to be concerned about.”
“We’re doing what we can do in this economy.” – Daniel Kane
These include the replacement of Cath Lab equipment and the purchase of a new CT scanner that will expand its ability to diagnose and treat a variety of ailments.
“We’re doing what we can do in this economy,” Kane said.
Just after taking over operations at the hospital, management hired firms to manage some of the key areas neglected in the past. One of the next steps involves getting medical records off paper and into systems that can be monitored remotely by doctors.
Some of the changes in the hospital include agreements with outside vendors to operate key services the hospital managed in the past, such as the Women’s Center on Broadway. Such an agreement allowed the hospital to reopen its psychiatric wing with a focus on providing for senior citizens.
“We’re doing everything we can to preserve jobs while continuing to make improvements to the operations,” Kane said.
Horizon Family Health Care Center is currently awaiting final approval by the state, Kane said, and this will allow the hospital to provide even more services to the community.
ER equipment and response has improved
One of the real success stories of the year has been the improvements made to the Emergency Room, which not only upgraded equipment, but also significantly improved responses to patients as they arrive.
“Patient satisfaction surveys show they are pleased with the response,” he said.
Just before Christmas, the new mobile PET scan went into operations. The unit provides cancer screenings once a week at the hospital, a service that will be provided more often as demand increases. Prior to this, many patients had to go to Manhattan for the scans.
BMC has also been doing significant outreach, not only going to local community groups to talk about programs and insurance issues, but also through events such as its health fair.
The hospital is also hoping to increase its geographical range outside of Bayonne, and has been visiting various communities such as Society Hill in Jersey City to speak with groups about the services BMC provides.
This year, the hospital also restored its patient transportation services in Bayonne, a benefit especially for senior citizens.
While BMC already specializes in a variety of cardiac and vascular procedures, one new area involves weight-reduction surgery, a program that began at the hospital in January, and which involves a full range of associated services dealing with weight control.
“The community fought to keep this hospital in operation,” Kane said. “The city put up its resources. The mayor and council showed real leadership, and we got a lot of support from inside and outside the hospital itself.”
This community support, as well as good management, has made the hospital a success story over the last year.
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.