Community Hospitals Rising to the Challenge

Due to the recent economic crisis, the health care system has changed considerably. This has been the source of unique challenges faced by community hospitals around the country. Edward Dinan, President and Chief Executive Officer at Lawrence Hospital told Empowered Health News of the financial trouble it is facing at this time. Lawrence Hospital is one of many community hospitals that are rising to the challenge of maintaining quality services to their communities while managing the effects of the economic downturn.

Being a smaller hospital rather than a teaching hospital comes with both upsides and downsides. Community hospitals can provide a “high touch” level of care for their patients. This intimacy when paired with smaller financial budgets makes for the challenges faced by the hospital. "Challenges come primarily in the fields of financial reimbursements as well as pressures." Dinan said. The majority of expenses come from the effort to provide care for patients. Community hospitals do not receive the community’s tax dollars.

They receive reimbursements from Medicaid and Medicare from the government, but this rarely covers the full extent of the costs required to provide adequate care to suit the patient’s needs. Patient care makes up for 60 percent of the expenses at Lawrence Hospital, including the cost to upkeep the 291 beds contained throughout the facilities.

"The capital expenditures for large pieces of technologically advanced equipment can stress the budget of community hospitals" exclaimed Dinan. The hospital provides a wide range of tertiary and quaternary care for its patients. Providing any one of the radiological services for its patients requires the maintenance and sometimes replacement of equipment.  A CAT scan can cost well in excess of a million dollars.

The ability to replace such a piece of equipment, not only depends upon slight prophet margins, but also philanthropy from the communities. This is an on going struggle that Lawrence Hospital and other community hospitals are striving to overcome.


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