Palomar Pomerado Losses Mean Possible Hospital Layoffs
Losses in operating costs of $4.3 million between July 1 and Oct. 31 are causing concern to Palomar Pomerado Health System board members, who approved the district's $246.1 million operating budget in June and are now being told personnel layoffs may be needed, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Administrators had been predicting a $2.6 million surplus by June 2001, but now the district thinks it was being overly optimistic. "[W]e are asking the board to revise [the budget] downward," said district CFO John Nilsson. "We were very optimistic in June -- probably too much so." According to Nilsson, the loss in the first four months of the year consists primarily of unbudgeted costs, including $1.6 million for patient supplies; $1.1 million in professional fees for attorneys, physicians, and outside consultants; $790,000 for employee benefits and health claims; and approximately $500,000 for nurses contracted from outside the organization. Nilsson said the hospital is searching for ways to lessen the district's "reliance" on hiring outside nurses, while reducing overtime for staff nurses and other hospital employees. While no bedside nurses will be laid off, Nilsson indicated that "cutbacks could affect some of our 3,000 employees," and said district administrators would continue to try to renegotiate health care contracts with insurance companies, HMOs and employee groups to bring in more money from reimbursements. District board Chair Dr. Nicholas Yphantides said, "[T]he administration has had four months of experience with it now, and some adjustments are necessary. It's better that we do that now while we are only a third of the way through the fiscal year" (Berhman, San Diego Union-Tribune, 11/30).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.