Littauer featured in “State of Health”

Littauer featured in “State of Health”

State Of Health

New budget well-received by area officials, though some uncertainty remains

April 13, 2014
By BRIAN McELHINEY , The Leader Herald

Most years, when the New York state budget is announced, Nathan Littauer Hospital expects to lose funding. That didn’t happen this year.

“This budget’s different in that there’s usually all this negative, and there isn’t,” Nathan Littauer Hospital CEO Laurence Kelly said.

The state’s 2014-15 budget will reinvest $8 billion from a federal Medicaid waiver announced in February for projects to improve the health care system, according to a release from the state Senate. There also were no cuts in hospital reimbursement for Medicaid patients, Kelly said.

Article Photos

Senior technologist Elishiba Frasier, left, performs a Dexa-Scan to test for bone density on patient Kaytie Compani at Nathan Littauer Hospital in Gloversville on Thursday. Photo by Bill Trojan/The Leader-Herald

“That just means that we can do everything that we usually do and not have to scramble to try to be forced to reduce expenses when we didn’t want to,” Kelly said. “We’re looking to do that all the time anyway, to provide more services. … Most years we’re getting a 1 percent, 2 percent cut, 3 percent cut.”

The budget also includes funding for a number of health care programs, including $4.1 million to the Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage program and other senior services; a $1.2 billion capital investment over seven years for restructuring health care facilities; and $163 million for early intervention programs, according to the Senate release. According to the release, along with funding for other health initiatives, including cancer services programs and the Nutritional Information for Women, Infants and Children program, the budget also includes the Safe Patient Handling Act, which requires hospitals to establish a program to prevent injuries to staff and patients during patient transport.

However, at the moment it’s still too early to tell how most of these investments will affect local services, according to local officials.

Fact Box

Budget numbers

Some highlights from the New York state budget pertaining to health care and senior services:

$8 billion in funds from the federal Medicaid waiver for transformative projects to improve the health care system.

$1.2 billion capital investment over seven years for the restructuring of health care facilities.

$95 million to create a statewide electronic medical record system.

$4.1 million in increased funding to the New York’s Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage program. Additionally, eligibility has been expanded, from $35,000 to $75,000 for singles, and from $50,000 to $100,000 for married seniors.

$5 million for the Community Services for the Elderly Program.

$25.3 million for cancer services programs.

$26.3 million for Nutritional Information for Women, Infants and Children.

$2.3 million for the Prenatal Care program.

$4.5 million for maternal and child health.

$550,000 for women’s health services.

$533,300 for the Adelphi Breast Cancer Support program.

$1.8 million for the Prenatal and Postpartum Home Visitation program.

$34,700 for the Safe Motherhood Initiative.

$10.6 million for adolescent pregnancy prevention.

$1.8 million in increased funding for Rape Crisis Centers.

$5 million in additional funding for the Spinal Cord Injury Research Board.

$2.5 million in additional funding for the Doctors Across New York program.

$2.45 million for addiction services, prevention and treatment.

$500,000 for Lyme and tick-borne disease initiatives.

$163 million for early intervention programs.

Kelly said the state will need to come up with criteria for distributing the $1.2 billion for health care facilities as grants.

“We don’t really know what they’re looking for yet,” he said. “Restructuring, on a global term, that kind of means what’s been happening for a long time now. There’s less of a need for people to be admitted to a hospital, and in place of that we take care of them as an outpatient, or they just come for a treatment, they come for a test or they come for therapy, or you go to their home versus them coming to a hospital.”

Littauer already has a head start on the Safe Patient Handling Act. The hospital formed a safe patient handling committee about three years ago, and has invested “thousands and thousands of dollars” on lift systems to move overweight and obese patients, Kelly said. Some rooms in the hospital are equipped with stationary lifts, while other lifts are portable.

“We all know that there are more people that weigh more than they did in the past,” Kelly said. “It’s so much more of a risk for our staff when you’re trying to move somebody who’s 400, 500 pounds, so we have to have this stuff to do it safely.”

Representatives from New York Oncology-Hematology, which has an office in Amsterdam, were not sure how much of the $25.3 million set aside for cancer services in the budget would be coming directly to them.

“We are pleased that this year’s state budget includes funding for cancer services,” Edwin T. Graham, Northeast regional senior vice president of the U.S. Oncology Network, said in an emailed statement. “It signals New York’s continued commitment to expanding access to vital screenings for early detection as well as continued cancer research.”

“Typically the state will use some of that money to expand access for people not eligible [for cancer care],” said Sarah Bilofsky, NYOH’s marketing director. “Obviously, any money set aside for research benefits everybody as well.”

According to Bilofsky, in late January NYOH announced a $3 million investment of its own money for the Amsterdam office to upgrade its radiation line.

The budget also includes $26.3 million for the WIC program. However, Fulton County WIC Director Stella Zanella did not have information about the funding and would not comment.

“I really haven’t heard anything about that,” she said.

Dave Jordan, executive director of the Montgomery County Office for Aging, said he was pleased with the funding allocated to EPIC and other senior services, in particular the $5 million alloted for the Community Services for the Elderly program.

“That’s a catch-all state program,” Jordan said. “That’s used for things like outreach.”

He estimated that his office would receive anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000.

“I think often senior issues don’t get on the front page, so they don’t get enough coverage, especially the EPIC program, where people don’t realize how much of someone’s income goes [to medication],” Jordan said.

The Office for Aging in Fulton County did not return phone calls seeking comment on the EPIC and senior services funding. St. Mary’s Healthcare also did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Nathan Littauer fiscally strong

Nathan Littauer Hospital remains financially strong

Nathan Littauer Hospital and Family of Healthcare Services in the Black for the 7th Straight Year

April 10, 2009

GLOVERSVILLE, NY …Nathan Littauer Hospital and Nursing Home has finished fiscal year 2008 with a positive operating margin, marking the 7th straight year in the black.

The hospital’s operating margin was 2.8% on revenues of $77.7 million. Hospital leaders presented the information to the Board of Directors recently. Because Littauer is nonprofit, positive finances are referred to as an operating margin rather than a profit. As a nonprofit institution, Littauer will use its operating margin to reinvest in facilities and equipment, ensuring the highest quality of care for its increasing patient population.

Laurence E. Kelly, Littauer’s CEO and President stated, “These are challenging times for any healthcare organization. The sector has been wrought with fluctuation and chaos because of budget and reimbursement changes coupled with the plummeting stock market. However, with our strong vision and our financial leadership, we have managed the unpredictability successfully.” He added, “I do not know of any hospital in our region that has operated in the black during all of these seven years.”

Mr. Kelly notes, “There is a strong correlation between a hospital’s fiscal strength and its ability to provide quality patient care. Improving quality of care requires continued investment in clinical technologies, computer systems, physical facilities and staff. Our positive financial results have allowed us to not only strengthen our balance sheet but also make the needed capital and operating investments to continue to be a great community hospital.”

HANYS (Healthcare Association of New York State) President Daniel Sisto said: “Hospitals in every region of the state have been severely impacted by repeated state health care cuts over the last several years. For Nathan Littauer Hospital to come through such difficult times without sustaining an operating loss is a rare accomplishment.”

“We are in a strong position fiscally, thanks to a team effort at Littauer. Every management meeting begins with in-depth analysis of our financial standing followed by a review of updated patient quality reports. Negotiating the financial landscape in the future will be challenging- particularly with the uncertainty of our economy and national health care policy.” said Henry Legendziewicz, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Littauer. He explained, “The Hospital’s projected state budget cuts will be just over $1 million. We had adjusted our 2009 budget in December to reflect these cuts.” Mr. Legendziewicz notes, “Agility is our strong suit.”

Nathan Littauer’s family of healthcare services had 4,876 patient discharges and observation cases in the fiscal year 2008. The Hospital also saw 4,900 surgical cases, both inpatient and outpatient, in their operating rooms. Meanwhile, the eight primary care centers in Fulton County handled more than 92,000 patient visits.

In the year ahead, Littauer will strive to increase capacity to meet the growing needs of patients. Littauer recently announced the renovation of their maternity unit. Other projects include an expanded and enhanced Emergency Department, slated for 2010. Both projects will be funded with cash. Mr. Kelly explained, “We have carved a niche for ourselves in securing cutting-edge technology and we will continue that trend. We are adding new surgical towers to our operating rooms, a technology which our surgeons are thrilled about.”

“We have always been the hospital of choice for Fulton County and our fiscal strength will ensure the Littauer tradition will continue. Even with our financial strength our patient satisfaction numbers were very strong in 2008, in some areas exceeding 91%. In the year ahead we will increase our capacity while improving patient care, efficiency, and quality throughout the Hospital.” concluded Mr. Kelly.