It’s been more than half a decade since the last time South Central Kansas Medical Center ended its fiscal year in the black. The hospital last was profitable in 2010, the final year prior to moving to its new facility. However, according to hospital officials, the medical center plans to see a positive bottom line in 2017.

sckmcSCKMC chief financial officer Holly Harper presented the positive message during the December meeting of the SCKMC Board of Trustees.

“I’m showing a $2 million bottom line (for the 2017 budget),” Harper said. “Sales tax revenue is expected to be quite high this year, as this is one of the years where we have the overlap of the 1-percent (tax) while the half-percent (tax) is still going. We use those for the bond payment — we don’t actually use those for operations, but it still is counted on our income statement. If you back that off, we are at a loss, but a very small loss compared to what we have done (recently).”

Harper is projecting SCKMC to end 2017 at an operations loss of $290,683, plus projected sales tax revenue of $2,308,500, leaving a positive bottom line of $2,017,817. In addition to the sales tax funds, operational revenue is anticipated to increase in 2017, closing the gap from previous years and inching the facility closer to break-even status. The majority of the increase is related to the addition of a Geriatric Psychiatric Unit. The unit is on schedule to open next month.

“If everything goes as planned, (on) January 1, 2017, we will be in the geri-psych business and have a senior health care unit to start producing a new source of revenue for this hospital,” said SCKMC chief executive officer Virgil Watson. “I think it was one of the things that will be vital to stabilizing our financial situation.”

The new unit will include 12 patient beds, with management and staffing being outsourced to Quality Health Care, Inc. (QHC), a Wichita-based, privately owned company. The unit is located in the former location of the family birthing center. Obstetrical services have been relocated to an underutilized portion of the facility.

On average, it takes roughly 90 days for a senior health unit to reach what is considered a standard capacity of 90 percent. However, QHC representatives think the “ramp-up” period could be reduced significantly as a result of having such a unit already established in Wellington.

Harper has used a more conservative 70-percent utilization rate for the 2017 budget, which still contributes significantly to the planned $4.5 million increase in gross patient revenue for 2017. “I have already had a referral source call me asking when we are opening our doors, because they have patients ready,” she said.

This information was provided by South Central Kansas Medical Center Marketing Director Clayton Pappan.