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Bucking the System: Chicago's Saint Anthony Hospital Marks 1st Year of Independence With Stronger Bottom Line

Friday, July 2, 2010 General News J E 4
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CHICAGO, July 1 Despite a healthcare environment that tested even powerhouse players, Saint Anthony Hospital -- a community hospital in an underserved Chicago neighborhood -- grew its business during its first year as a stand-alone hospital. A year ago, it separated from Ascension Health, the nation's largest Catholic and largest nonprofit health system.

(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20100701/CG30099)

(Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20100701/CG30099)

"When we took the bold step of breaking away from a large system, we believed we were well-positioned to succeed, and we were absolutely right," says Guy A. Medaglia, President and Chief Executive Officer. "As part of an ongoing trend, hospitals continue to close or be absorbed," Since 2006, according to the Illinois Hospital Association, two area hospitals closed and three joined larger systems.

Only two years ago, Saint Anthony Hospital was threatened to shut down. Instead, "We are maintaining continuity and quality in an urban area where community hospitals are scarce. By remaining open, we saved 1,000 Chicago jobs."

"Like most hospitals -- especially safety net hospitals -- we experienced major challenges over the past year," says Medaglia, Managing Director of FTI Healthcare, a Tennessee-based consultancy that specializes in hospital performance. The largest obstacle was the loss of $1.5 million in reimbursements since September 30, 2009. (The CMS Section 1011 Program, which covered emergency care costs for undocumented immigrants, ended.)

Through the 12 months ending March 2010, Saint Anthony Hospital showed a reported operating income of $2,428,000 against a budget of $451,000; in fiscal year 2009, it was $3,811,000 against a $75,000 loss. During the same period, several indicators illustrated the organizational vigor: surgeries up 18%; observation admissions up 26%; deliveries up 4%; adjusted discharges up 2%; and charity care up 20%.

But nobody does it alone: "We're grateful for support from local elected officials, The City of Chicago and the Archdiocese of Chicago, with whom we share a close affiliation in our role as a faith-based hospital." (A special board called the Public Juridic Person allows the hospital to remain Catholic and governs it.)

But there's more to the story. Over the past year:

For more than 110 years, physicians and staff of Saint Anthony Hospital have provided medical care, social services, and community outreach programs to Chicago's underserved communities. Saint Anthony today provides a full continuum of care--acute, medical, primary, pediatric, obstetrics and surgical -- to meet the needs of the communities and the patients it serves.

-- A greatly expanded Physician Center opened, allowing increased patient access and improved technology and equipment. -- A Wound Care Clinic debuted to ease patient flow and navigation. -- Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley recognized the hospital for its leadership in the citywide School at Work Program. It was named the mentor hospital for the expansion of School at Work, a career development program for entry-level workers in the healthcare industry featuring instruction at no charge to employees. -- An Electronic Medical Record was introduced, the result of a $6.3 million investment in a new health information system enabling better, faster, and more detailed real-time information.

SOURCE Saint Anthony Hospital Chicago
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