UCSD MEDICAL CENTER: Financial Rally May End Next Year
University of California-San Diego Medical Center "is maintaining its financial recovery," but officials say that "continuing changes in the health care environment will cut profitability in half next year," the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Officials briefed the University of California Regents that UCSD Medical Center will finish this fiscal year on June 30 with a net gain of $26.8 million, a slight gain over last year's $26.1 million figure. The year before that, however, was dismal: UCSD's two facilities -- the main hospital in Hillcrest and Thornton Hospital in La Jolla -- lost $20 million in FY 1995-96. "[C]hronically underutilized" Thornton alone will post an operating gain of $6 million this year, after a $1 million loss in FY 1996-97.
Dr. John Alksne, vice chancellor for health services at UCSD and the dean of the School of Medicine, said the medical center's "outlook for 1998-99 in not quite as rosy." He said, "Even if we maintain our (patient) census at the current level, we estimate our profitability will be only half what it is the current year." One major reason for the drop off is "an anticipated decrease in Medi-Cal volume as the majority of those patients in San Diego are shifted into a managed care health plan." In an effort to keep medical center profits up, Alksne said UCSD is "working vigorously with the faculty and our staff to improve our customer serve and access ... (so that) people are delighted to come to our facilities." In addition, the center plans to create two new health plans and "continues to explore the possibility of a 'strategic alliance with other health-care providers in our community'" (Ristine, 6/25).