BUTLER TWP — At year’s end, emergency department visits at Butler Memorial Hospital are up in 2012 over a year ago, while patient stays in the hospital remain steady.
Anne Krebs, chief financial officer for Butler Health System, parent of the hospital, discussed the two trends as part of a 2012 calendar year-end report on the health system’s financial status.
Hospital admissions in 2012 were basically the same as the year before, 16,872, up just 40 from 2011.
Actual patient days in the hospital remained about 65,000 days.
However, ER visits jumped from 43,652 in fiscal year 2011 to 46,744 in fiscal year 2012, an increase of almost 3,100 visits.
Krebs said while she doesn’t know the exact cause of the increase, she suspects the nation’s economy plays a large role in it.
“We’ve had this increase with two FastER Care locations and the (Community Health Clinic of Butler County),” she said. “I just think people are not going to the doctor, but waiting until they are really sick and end up in the ER.”
The health system’s total revenue for the fiscal year 2012 is $255.4 million with expenses at $251.9 million. Its fiscal year runs from September 2011 to October 2012.
The excess of $3.5 million goes back into the system and will be used to cover free health care costs, training and education for staff and for capital improvements to outpatients services. It also is used to replace major medical equipment and to install advanced information system technology, Krebs said.
Visits to health system’s 27 outpatient clinics continue to climb closer to 500,000 annually, with 485,150 in 2012.
The number of employees for the health system fell by about 20 to 1,819. Krebs said when the new patient tower opened almost two years ago, the system slightly over hired.
In a new part of the annual report, which was discussed at the health system’s annual meeting Dec. 6, Krebs said the overall economic impact of the health system on Butler County comes to about $410 million.
Of that, $186.8 million is in direct impact from what the hospital earns and spends, as well as what employees earn and spend in the community.
The secondary impact, Krebs said, is about $223.3 million, from such things as money spent by patients and their families when they come to the hospital or to an outpatient clinic for treatment, as well as money spent at businesses such as pharmacies or home health care equipment stores.
Krebs also said in reviews by Moody’s and Fitch, both bond rating companies, the health system has been rated as stable with a Baa1 bond rating by Moody’s and an A-minus rating by Fitch.
Ken DeFurio, health system president and CEO, said fiscal year 2012 was successful for the health system despite economic pressure from falling state and federal health care reimbursements.
He also said the system did well despite the decline in patient use of health care resources.
“Butler Health System continues to maintain volumes, and is experiencing growth of volumes in selected areas. What this means is that not only are people in Butler County choosing us for their health care needs, more and more people from surrounding counties are choosing Butler Health System as well,” DeFurio said in an e-mail.
He said the system is looking forward to health care reform, which is “fundamentally about driving costs out of the system, and hospitals throughout the country will feel the biggest impact of reform.
“In addition, we have significant competitive activity happening in Pittsburgh. We will very actively manage our costs and continue to improve our quality. When it makes sense to partner in certain service lines, we will,” DeFurio said.