Preston Memorial CEO addresses leaked financial reports

KINGWOOD — Preston Memorial Hospital (PMH) is meeting and exceeding a lot of industry benchmarks, CEO Melissa Lockwood said last week.

That’s despite internal documents that show the critical care community hospital ended fiscal year 2017 with a $722,000 loss and as of May had a $632,000 loss. A $583,000 deficit was projected to that point. Its fiscal year ended June 30.

As previously reported, internal documents obtained by The Dominion Post showed that Mon Health System, of which PMH is a part, ended 2018 more than $28 million in the red. System CEO Tom Senker told the newspaper that it hopes a new strategy will enable it to break even in 2019.

“Preston Memorial Hospital is really growing, exceeding all of the targets that we set for ourselves, beating a lot of industry benchmarks. We’re really proud to be where we are with the new hospital,” Lockwood said.

Preston opened its new hospital in May 2015. The facility was built with a 35-year loan. It joined the Mon Health System in 2014.

“While we had an operating loss, the flip side of that is we’re building our cash,” Lockwood said last week. She said it is typical for a critical access hospital to have losses in its early years, “and we’re doing exactly, if not better than,” expectations.

The hospital continues to expand services, Lockwood said. Preston added orthopedic surgery services this year, and last year cardiac rehab had about a 5 percent increase.

“We’re — in my opinion — in a really tremendous growth position here,” Lockwood said. “Annually for five years compounded we’ve seen year over year we’re growing about 3 percent.”

That growth rate is based on volume. Growth has been strongest in physical therapy, she said.

“Within the system I feel like there’s struggles in certain components of things. I feel like there’s pockets of good in every situation … I understand looking at that on paper years ago, if I was the CFO and if I was budgeting half million dollar losses every year, that wouldn’t fly,” Lockwood said.

“The way a critical access hospital is modeled out … we’re doing exactly what we’re supposed to … And I think the other positive is when we did projections and we had to budget out like five years how you’d think you would perform, the first three years that we’ve been in this building, we’ve actually outperformed that projection by 1.9 percent.”

The hospital has about 300 full-time equivalent positions, and, “as you grow your services, you have to grow your full-time equivalent,” she said. There is no hiring freeze, she said.

PMH has discussed plans for adding a physician’s office building to its campus off W.Va. 26. Lockwood said she is working with the Mills Group architects and doing some, “space planning,” but everything is “very preliminary” in that planning and there is no final board approval yet.

It is sometimes challenging for a small critical care hospital to make a profit, Lockwood said. But about 15 years in, “it kind of flips.” That’s one reason for adding services.

Patient surveys return an “overwhelmingly” positive response, she said.

PMH and Stonewall Jackson Hospital, another Mon Health System facility, are also working on acute stroke ready designation.

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