June 10, 2014

UMass Memorial Health Care losses shrink, primarily at medical center

Losses for Worcester-based UMass Memorial Health Care (UMMHC) are shrinking, though some of its hospitals actually widened their losses, according to second-quarter financial results released Tuesday by the Massachusetts Center for Health Information and Analysis.

UMMHC's four Central Massachusetts hospitals posted a combined, year-to-date loss of $16.47 million at the end of the second quarter on March 31. That's compared to a combined loss of $28.92 million a year earlier.

The decline is attributed to a smaller loss at the system's largest hospital, UMass Memorial Medical Center (UMMC) in Worcester. At the end of the second quarter, it posted a $14.82 million loss – about half of the $29.8-million loss posted a year earlier.

In the last several months, UMMHC has conducted significant cuts to its workforce and services to shore up revenue. All told, 388 full-time-equivalent positions had been cut by the end of April, though the hospital system remains the region's largest employer.

Sergio Melgar, chief financial officer for UMMHC, said administrators are pleased with improved operating results, and that the system is starting to see the impacts of a reduced expense structure. But Melgar added restructuring will continue until the system generates positive results.

"It's not as though our work is done," said Melgar. He noted that Moody's Investors Service's downgrade of the UMass system to "speculative" investment status in March has been particularly challenging.

"In order to get back our investment grade from Moody's, we will need to produce positive results," Melgar said.

In addition to the benefit of reduced expenses, Melgar said inpatient volumes, which had dropped about 15 percent in the first quarter, have rebounded somewhat.

Meanwhile, second-quarter results at UMMHC's other Central Massachusetts hospitals declined compared with the first half of the 2013 fiscal year:

• HealthAlliance Hospital in Leominster posted a $344,165 operating surplus at the end of the second quarter. That was down from $1.43 million in 2013.

• Clinton Hospital lost $528,000, compared with $11,000 a year earlier.

• Marlborough Hospital lost $1.47 million, compared with a $465,000 loss in 2013.

Heywood Hospital in Gardner, on the other hand, improved its position, year over year. It posted an operating surplus of $1.07 million at the end of the second quarter, compared with $915,596 a year earlier.

And while in the black, Milford Regional Medical Center's operating surplus declined from $3.47 million at the end of the second quarter of 2013, to $1.84 million this year.

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