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CVPH Ends Fiscal Year with $7 Million Deficit

While praising the employees and providers of the University of Vermont Health Network – Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital (CVPH) for their unwavering commitment to patient care during these remarkable times, President Michelle LeBeau announced today that despite their hard work and dedication, the organization is projected to lose $7 million in FY2020.

“To say that these past 12 months have been difficult is an understatement but our team has once again shown their commitment to our community and those they serve – keeping their focus on the two things we do here every day: care for our patients and each other,” she said.

At the close of the fiscal year on September 30, the hospital posted $362 million in patient revenue and $369 million in total operating expenses for a $7 million loss.  Revenue only grew by 1% from what it was in 2019 while expenses grew this year at a much faster pace, according to CVPH Chief Financial Officer Christopher Hickey. Wages, benefits, pharmaceuticals and medical/surgical supplies accounted for the highest expenditures in the FY2020 budget. 

“Even before COVID-19, by February of 2020, we had lost $6.3 million - almost a $1 million a month.  We were focused on correcting the shortfall with measures in place to reduce expenses and increase revenue. The pandemic put a hold on everything and even forced us to pause most of our revenue generating services,” he explained.  

CVPH received $30 million in federal relief funding which is included in the $362 million and helped to offset some of the significant losses related to COVID-19. “The stimulus funding spared us from total devastation – it was a true life preserver – but it didn’t close the gap. We have to do that.” Hickey said. 

In May, the facility began to slowly and deliberately reopen those services that were paused in response to the pandemic with an eye always on the safety of patients and staff.  “As the predominant health care provider for this community we were committed to reopening safely. The way in which our team has done that is inspiring,” LeBeau said.   The CVPH president cautioned, however, that COVID-19 is still very much present here and across the country and continues to pose threats to our health care industry.

As of September 30, there were 8,700 CVPH admissions, 36,036 Emergency Department visits, 10,833 surgeries, 696 births and 277,989 patient visits. Hickey pointed out that decreasing patient revenue continues to be a recurring issue for CVPH. “When we do a month-to-month comparison, we have consistently run below pre-COVID-19 levels,” he said.

LeBeau said the organization is engaged in addressing its financial challenges on several fronts. A redesign initiative created to align staffing with patient volume will support our organization once all positions become filled.

“We have a number of folks who aren’t able to work for a variety of reasons – illness, school challenges, childcare – this places additional tension on an already stretched team,” she explained.

A hiring assessment, where every open position is closely evaluated prior to filling, continues at the Plattsburgh hospital.

Leaders’ base pay was reduced and contributions to 403B paused as part of the redesign plan. They have also been contributing up to 25% of their insurance premiums.    

 “We’ve hired a number of physicians who will provide our community with the medical care it needs while generating critical revenue,” explained LeBeau. Orthopedic surgeons, hospitalists, emergency physicians, a radiologist, an urologist and an OB/GYN have recently been added to the CVPH Medical Staff and recruiting efforts continue.

Prior to COVID-19, CVPH had also engaged the services of ECG Management Consultants. The nationally recognized firm has helped to identify even more opportunities for improvement.  Hickey explained that this partnership was made even more critical by the financial toll the last seven months has had on the organization.

“All of these initiatives will help us secure our future – to be here for our patients now and in the years to come,” LeBeau said.  “Our folks are some of the best. They are compassionate, knowledgeable, skilled and dedicated to this community and each other. I am certain that by working together, we will continue to provide the care our community needs.”