Hospitals make ends meet during sequester - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Hospitals make ends meet during sequester

HERRIN, IL (KFVS) -

The sequester cut thousands of jobs, along with important services for children, seniors, people with mental illness and our men and women in uniform.

As a result, some hospitals aren't getting some of the government services that they used to get.

Now, they're having a tough time balancing their budgets and staying active to find ways to stay in the black.

"How do we create efficiencies and reduce expenses," asked Terence Farrell, administrator at Herrin Hospital.

It is a question administrators at every hospital asked themselves thanks to the sequester.

And, a question Terence Farrell asks every day during what's called a "Gamba walk."

"Gamba means go to where the work is, go to where the issues are," said Farrell. "It takes about an hour, we spend about five or so minutes at each department."

Five minutes a day have proven to staff that there are a number of areas that needed to change in order to save the hospital money.

"Times when people were having to take a piece off of a syringe to use and the rest of it got thrown away and it all adds up," he said. "So we really want to find all of them."

Ninety departments at the three SIH hospitals, Herrin, Memorial and St. Joseph Memorial Hospital, use hospital patient care improvement boards for lean daily management.

It is just another way for staff to look at areas that need improvement, but also to show progress within the departments.

"We're expecting the unexpected," said Farrell.

And, with more than 3,000,000 patient encounters a year, every dollar saved is worth it.

"It's about $2.2 million on an annual basis," said CFO Mike Kasse.

But, it's not just the day-to-day expenses, but also the long-term hits that Kasse is worried about.

"It may have an effect on us in terms of down the road in terms of capital acquisitions, equipment of facility projects, renovations, things like that as we get towards the end of the year that we may have to hold off on," Kasse said.

However, Kasse is confident this is not a death sentence for the future of the hospitals and their service to 16 counties.

"Two million dollars isn't the end of the world to us, we can weather the storm," Kasse said. "The $212 million, we have to do some work to make up for that, but we are definitely headed in the right direction and we have staff that is very engaged in doing that."

Copyright 2013 KFVS. All rights reserved.

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