Outgoing CFO says KDMC ‘will be fine’

Published 6:00 am Tuesday, January 6, 2009

King’s Daughters Medical Center’s outgoing money guru predictedthat conditions at the recently embattled hospital would improve inthe coming year as new facilities and services come online.

Outgoing KDMC Chief Financial Officer Dean Snider said thecoming completion of the hospital’s multi-year project to constructa $12 million Intensive Care Unit – along with other facilities andtechnological upgrades – would help draw in patients who normallyvisit Jackson-area hospitals and enhance KDMC’s ability to recruitnew physicians.

“The key is always to grow the medical staff and convince peopleto stay here,” Snider said after a reception honoring his 19 yearsof service to KDMC. He leaves to serve as the CFO for Jackson’sBlair E. Batson Children’s Hospital.

Snider said the hospital’s patient volume must increase beforeit can recover from close to $1 million in bad debt caused byuninsured patients. The only way to bring in more patients, hesaid, is to convince them KDMC is a one-stop for medicaltreatment.

“We’re hoping these improvements will encourage people to stayat home,” Snider said. “A lot of people still go to Jackson, andthat’s a big problem. But we’re putting a facility in place herethat’s as good as anything in Jackson.”

Last year, KDMC took large steps to increase its patient volumeby adding new, diverse medical services. It opened the WoundHealing Center, which specializes in using hyperbaric medicine -pure oxygen treatments – to heal troublesome wounds such asdiabetic sores, and installed the Dilon 6800, an advanced cameraused in mammography.

However, a collapsing national economy and immense fuel pricesvirtually removed many would-be patients’ ability to undergospecialized treatments and elective surgeries. Hospital officialssaid the last four months of the year saw unexpectedly low patientvolumes, and Snider said the economy is another critical factor inrepairing the KDMC’s financial damage.

Snider said it’s far too early to celebrate, but the hospitalhas seen recent improvement. The elimination of more than 40employees will certainly bring down KDMC’s expenditures, and Snidersaid other “cost reductions” have been made. Most helpful, he said,is a December increase in patient volume.

“I don’t believe KDMC is in that great of trouble,” Snider said.”If the economy comes back, I think everything will be fine.”

As Snider leaves for Jackson, another administrator from QuorumHealth Resources – the same company that employs Snider and KDMCChief Executive Officer Alvin Hoover – is stepping in to manage thehospital’s money while the search for a permanent CFO isconducted.

Interim CFO Tristan Glanville arrived at KDMC earlier this week,the most recent stop in more than 25 years of managing hospitals’finances. He has served in hospitals all across the South, and hasspent the last six years serving strictly as an interim CFO. Hesaid the role of traveling problem-solver is his calling.

After a few days of learning the lay of the land, Glanville saidKDMC’s problems are no different than those experienced byhospitals nationwide.

“The approach is to look at everything you do and do it aseffectively and efficiently as possible,” Glanville said. “We haveto make sure we continue to provide the best services so peoplewill patronize and support us. This is a good community, and acommunity like this is going to have a good hospital.”

On a larger scale, Snider’s departure for Blair E. Batson notonly leaves KDMC without one of its most experiencedadministrators, but also leaves local legislators without one oftheir most powerful tools.

Snider said his new place of employment has a full-time liaisonthat works on hospital policies with the Mississippi Legislature,and his time visiting the Capitol to advise legislators and explaincomplex Medicaid and billing formulas may be over.

“We’ve used him a lot,” said District 92 Rep. Becky Currie, whopresented Snider with a proclamation of thanks from the MississippiHouse of Representatives. “Dean has taught us so much abouthospital billing. You think the tax code is hard? You should seethe hospital formula.”

District 39 Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith had a similar proclamation forSnider from the Senate.

“Whenever we’re reviewing Medicaid at the Capitol, the firstthing everyone wants to know is, ‘What does Dean think of this?'”Hyde-Smith said.