Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Princeton Times

January 30, 2009

CEO: Hospital prognosis still healthy

PRINCETON — Hard financial times hit hospitals just like any business. But Princeton Community Hospital CEO Wayne Griffith reported this week that PCH’s prognosis is still healthy, despite an ailing economy.

Fresh off of three fiscal years of operating profits from $4 million to $10 million each, Griffith said PCH leaders have worked hard to ensure that the Princeton facility and its departments run efficiently and still provide the best care possible.

“We’re trying to be extremely cautious, not knowing what might be around the corner,” he said. “Obviously, we’re working on strategic planning all the time.”

Though the nationwide recession has had an impact on the organization, Griffith said PCH is still on solid financial ground. In fact, the hospital actually performed better in December 2008 than officials planned, posting a $231,375 profit when a loss of nearly $436,000 was anticipated.

So far, November 2008 has been the only month in FY 2009 to dip below the break-even mark, finishing the month with a $381,200 shortfall. Even in an industry where profits and losses mount quickly, Griffith said he was confident PCH will stand strong in the face of challenges.

“We’re still doing very well. We’re right on budget,” Griffith said.

The PCH year-to-date financial statements yield a profit of $520,597.

That doesn’t mean PCH is completely out of the recession woods yet, especially since hospitals tend to feel the heat when patients simply can’t pay their bills, and emergency cases increase in severity when clients cut back on medication and maintenance care to pay for food or rent.

Anytime people cut back on prescriptions, doctor’s visits and elective surgeries, Griffith said hospitals experience a similar budget crunch, and the riskiest decisions often land patients in the emergency room.

“The tougher it gets in the economy, the less you have of what you call disposable income,” he said.

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